Supply Assurance

Sponsored- Thermo Fisher Scientific; September 2023- The Journal of Healthcare Contracting

The topic of supply assurance took center stage during and immediately after the height of the pandemic. Prior to 2020, supply chain challenges were rarely in the consumer spotlight. When personal protective equipment became scarce, supply chain conversations dominated the world.

The healthcare industry was at the center of the supply chain storm. Unfortunately, even after the pandemic essentially ended, manufacturers couldn’t produce the volume of products needed and distributors developed novel and creative solutions to meet their customers’ needs despite the limitations they encountered.

Laboratory and purchasing employees at healthcare facilities were presented with various options and new programs that sustained them so laboratory procedures and testing could continue. Fisher Healthcare responded to the challenges by establishing a supply assurance program for its customers that remains a key part of its distribution strategy today.

“While we couldn’t solve all of the supply chain challenges we were facing, we had the ability to put new processes in place so our customers could rely on us to meet their needs,” said Patrick Jones, president, Fisher Healthcare. “We relied on our relationships and our buying power to take care of our customers. Our solutions worked, and we continue to rely on them even though product availability has dramatically improved over the past several months.”

Allocation Process

One of the primary ways customers’ needs are met is through a customer-oriented allocation process. Fisher Healthcare may offer alternative products when desired items aren’t readily available. The process also incorporates communication tools to inform customers of market changes and potential shortages.

Quick Ship

A quick ship program for high turnover products is also effective in meeting customer and patient demand. Fisher Healthcare maintains high inventory levels of the most in demand products in its distribution centers. This step enables customers to remain confident that their most utilized products are available when they need them.

Internal Delivery

Laboratory professionals frequently express frustration with their own facilities when products arrive but aren’t quickly delivered to their department. Fisher Healthcare’s delivery solution can enable a more efficient internal supply chain process. A low unit of measure system enhances this feature by making it easier to store products where they are easily accessible to laboratory departments.

Reserve Inventory

Laboratories that need additional assurances for products critical to their workflows can participate in a customer reserve inventory program. Volume commitments and time bound purchase orders make this an effective solution for laboratories that want extra certainty for their inventory.

“We are 100 percent lab and diagnostics focused so we can provide lab expertise that is unparalleled in this industry,” said Jones. “We know lab workflows and have dedicated resources who can quickly react to product shortages so our end customers can continue to care for their patients.”

The tremendous supply chain challenges the healthcare industry faced will most certainly be examined as case studies in the future. Distributors, such as Fisher Healthcare, who found solutions and continue to refine them are innovators. Their work will help our nation’s healthcare facilities be prepared and equipped for future public health disasters.

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