Editor’s Note: To answer questions on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the U.S. healthcare supply chain, The Journal of Healthcare Contracting reached out to Steve Kiewiet, Chief Commercial Officer for Intalere. He offered the following comments.
JHC: What are some best practices of leading IDNs, health systems and hospitals that have disaster and disruption plans in place? How are they trying to stay ahead of any potential issues?
Steve Kiewiet: I think some systems do a great job in communicating with everyone in their system about the impacts when disruptions occur. They manage their inventory and utilization effectively and engage their clinical community in ways to maintain care while reducing the use of impacted products or finding alternative products for the delivery of care. Emergency operations and crisis management are executed well by many systems. The shortfall is we don’t work together to make this best practices, common practice for everyone in the industry.
JHC: How do we as an industry prevent shortages that may occur due to hoarding and panic buying?
Kiewiet: Transparency is the key. We must, as an industry, commit to enabling and participating in end-to-end supply chain visibility and transparency. We should be able to track and trace every product necessary for the delivery of care from raw materials to the use in delivery of care. Inventory levels should be transparent to every link in the chain. Each stakeholder should be held accountable to use that transparency to ensure the complete supply chain is optimized versus the optimization of one link over another. Transparency can help prevent overstock and understock issues. It can ensure all necessary products for care are in the right place at the right time for the right patient. We need to take all of the “lessons learned” from every previous supply disruption and implement the change necessary for every link in the chain.
JHC: Are you seeing lessons learned from previous disasters being implemented? If so, how have we gotten better at handling situations like this?
Kiewiet: I think individual systems have gotten better and individual manufacturers have gotten better. I don’t believe the industry has improved at all. Every disruption becomes a case study in the same lessons learned from the last disruption. Yet, as an industry we don’t take those learnings beyond the local or individual stakeholder level. We don’t come together as an industry and make the changes necessary to remove the risks and bring end-to-end resiliency to the supply chain. Healthcare isn’t consumer goods; we can’t keep living in reaction mode and playing the role of hero firefighter. We need to be fanatic about fire prevention. It would be great if I never had to watch another presentation, read a case study or attend a seminar on the lessons learned from the latest disruption.