Healthcare Group Purchasing Organizations:

Strengthening supply chain resiliency and supporting an effective response to COVID-19

By Khatereh Calleja, JD, president and CEO of the Healthcare Supply Chain Association

Health crises like the coronavirus place enormous stress on the entire healthcare system, including first responders, physicians, hospitals, other healthcare providers, and the patients they serve. As the sourcing and purchasing partners to America’s acute and non-acute providers, healthcare group purchasing organizations (GPOs) play a critical role in supporting emergency response and public health efforts and are deeply committed to ensuring that healthcare providers and physicians are prepared to respond to challenges like the coronavirus.

GPOs are taking a number of innovative steps to support COVID-19 response efforts, including supply coordination efforts to help medical teams obtain much needed supplies and support surge capacity, adding new manufacturers to contracts to rapidly increase supplies, and working with non-traditional and adjacent industries to fill supply gaps for essential products such as hand sanitizer, isolation gowns, and surgical caps. 

As part of our efforts, HSCA issued a series of principles and recommendations to further strengthen supply chain resiliency and enable an effective response to public health crises including:

  • Ensuring adequate supplies of PPE for healthcare workers on the front lines by working with all stakeholders to appropriately anticipate needs while preserving PPE and other critical products to help avoid disruption;
  • Supporting policy solutions that enhance upstream transparency and strengthen supply chain resiliency in advance of emergencies by enabling FDA and other authorities to have greater visibility into the source and location of manufacturing of medical products in advance of a public health emergency;
  • Enhancing capacity through increased supply chain diversification by leveraging the global nature of the supply chain to build in redundancies, shoring up domestic manufacturing as well as sourcing in various geographical locations to help prevent supply disruptions;
  • Fostering supply chain collaboration and communication among public and private stakeholders to coordinate emergency response plans, identify potential areas of vulnerability, and create lines of communication to support comprehensive response and ensure the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), as a critical partner, has access to the resources and funding it needs to support the public health and national security response capability;
  • Increasing access to timely information to inform response and allocation efforts and enable the use of data to help provider partners and public authorities prepare for, and respond to, public health threats and emergencies.

As an industry with a proven track record of providing critical support during emergencies like Hurricane Harvey, the California wildfires and the Ebola outbreak, GPOs are committed to helping America’s healthcare providers and public authorities confront difficult challenges like the coronavirus to support patient care. HSCA and its member GPOs will continue to work with Congress, the Administration, federal agencies, and all healthcare stakeholders throughout the healthcare delivery system to protect the supply chain and ensure hospitals and healthcare providers are equipped to treat and prevent the spread of this disease and provide first-class patient care.