Supply chain survey

Frontline providers value what supply chain does, but just don’t want to get too involved themselves

Better hospital supply chain management leads to better quality of care and supports patient safety, according to a Cardinal Health survey of hospital staff and decision-makers. In fact, 72 percent of frontline providers (e.g., nurses, doctors) consider supply chain management’s role in managing costs, improving patient experience and satisfaction, and improving quality of care to be “very important.”

Despite respondents rating their supply chain processes as “good,” one in four hospital staff have seen or heard of expired product being used on a patient, and 18 percent have seen or heard of a patient being harmed due to a lack of necessary supplies.

The survey found that supply chain tasks are impacting frontline providers. Physicians and nurses currently spend, on average, nearly 20 percent of their workweek on supply chain and inventory management. And they don’t like it.

This study was fielded Oct. 19 through Nov. 4, 2016, using an online survey methodology. The samples were drawn from SERMO’s Online Respondent Panel of Health Care Providers, a social network that includes over 600,000 medical professionals in the United States. The study included 403 respondents total, including 201 frontline healthcare providers in hospitals, 100 service line leaders in hospitals, and 102 hospital/supply chain administrators.

Some other findings:

Approximately what percentage of your average work week do you yourself spend dealing with inventory and supply chain (e.g. dealing with supply chain personnel, locating supplies, managing inventory, etc.)?

  • Frontline: 17 percent
  • Service line leaders (e.g., directors of clinical areas): 30 percent
  • Administrators (e.g., supply chain executives, materials managers): 45 percent

In your current position, have you ever experienced/heard of others experiencing any of the following problems? (Frontline providers’ responses.)

  • 65 percent: Patients had to wait because you didn’t have the right supplies available, which impacted patient wait times.
  • 50 percent: A physician didn’t have the product needed for a procedure during the procedure.
  • 17 percent: A recalled or expired product was used on a patient.
  • 12 percent: A patient experienced an adverse event because you didn’t have the right supplies at the right time.

What is one thing that you spend time doing in your role that you wish you didn’t have to do? (Frontline providers’ responses)

  • Supply and inventory tasks: 35 percent
  • Administrative tasks: 31 percent
  • Staffing issues: 10 percent
  • Finances/cost-cutting: 7 percent
  • Other: 15 percent

To learn more about the survey, go to