HSCA: Building on Collaboration and Communication with HSCA Connect

HSCA Connect, the Healthcare Supply Chain Association’s affiliate program for manufacturers, distributors, and other supply chain stakeholders, will launch in early 2023.

December 2022 – The Journal of Healthcare Contracting

By Todd Ebert, R.Ph., President and CEO of the Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA)

Collaboration is crucial to a healthy and resilient supply chain. Many of the innovative solutions to today’s supply chain issues emerge from collaborative spaces, whether they’re intentionally collaborative or not. A conversation between one supplier and one GPO can be just as productive as an entire three-day conference event. Healthcare group purchasing organizations (GPOs) are always working with their members to improve the quality and delivery of products and services. As the association representing leading group purchasing organizations (GPOs), the Healthcare Supply Chain Association looks to build on the interdependent work of GPOs and catalyze further collaboration through our new affiliate program, HSCA Connect.

GPOs are highly responsive to their members, which include hospitals of all sizes, nursing homes, clinics, surgery centers, and many other healthcare providers. Using data and feedback from members, they can quickly identify solutions to supply chain issues.

Often, however, GPOs are not able to act on these solutions alone and reach out to other stakeholders – manufacturers, distributors, service, and data providers – to determine the most efficient and realistic solutions. This collaborative approach has proved effective in addressing both broad supply and clinical issues that providers face, especially in times of crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, GPOs closely monitored supplies of essential healthcare products like face shields, isolation gowns, hand sanitizer, and more. By expanding partnerships beyond traditional vendors to adjacent industries such as distilleries, textile manufacturers, steel and automobile manufacturers, and others, GPOs were able to help fill supply gaps and create new relationships with non-traditional suppliers.

Communicating patient and provider needs to the stakeholders who can best address them is critical to maintaining quality care for specialty populations. Although age-appropriate hospital slippers existed for children age 3 and up, no such product existed for 1- or 2-year olds, which created potential fall risk for mobile babies. Another leading GPO’s Pediatric Council identified this as high-need for patient safety and worked with a supplier to develop slippers with proper fit and tread. Children’s hospitals across the country have now used these slippers with young children in hospital settings for several years. When a new product like these pediatric hospital slippers is created, GPOs will work with suppliers to determine anticipated provider purchase volume, allowing them to ensure they have sufficient profit margin to continue production. Not only does this exchange of information promote a stable supply chain, but it can also prevent shortages of essential drugs and supplies that providers need to deliver care.

Enhancing collaboration

The Healthcare Supply Chain Association’s affiliate program, HSCA Connect, reflects the association’s commitment to enhancing collaboration, resolving supply chain issues, and protecting patient care. The program, which will officially launch in early 2023, will bring together supply chain stakeholders in a healthy forum focused on improving the healthcare supply chain. In line with our collaborative approach, HSCA Connect is open to a wide variety of supply chain participants including suppliers, distributors, and service providers (consultants, analysts, legal, etc.)

The program’s main goals are to address key industry and supply chain issues and create opportunities for cross-industry education. With the input of program members and the guidance of a 7-person steering committee led by the association’s Director of Operations Allen Hamilton, HSCA Connect will determine the outstanding issues and topics that the program should address to be both proactive and reactive in their work. In all program activity, transparency and maintaining open, healthy channels of communication between stakeholders will be paramount. 

HSCA Connect members will have a variety of knowledge and research backgrounds. The program will engage in projects focused on industry-specific issues such as pharmacy and information technology, focusing on both inter-program and external education. Program leaders will present updates and findings at affiliated events, including the HSCA Supply Chain Leadership Conference taking place in fall 2023, and organize other forums for further conversations with HSCA member GPOs and healthcare stakeholders.

HSCA recognizes that the goals of the program will evolve in response to real-world developments, supply circumstances and provider needs. Our hope is that HSCA Connect will lead to increased efficiencies in the delivery of goods, products and services to healthcare providers and positively impact the quality and value of patient care. 

For more information about HSCA Connect, visit supplychainassociation.org/hsca-connect or email info@supplychainassociation.org.

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