The Future of Medical Supply Distribution

December 1, 2021 – The landscape of the medical distribution supply chain looks vastly different now than it did a couple of years ago. Reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical supply chain has had to shift and pivot through an incredibly difficult period. Mark Seitz, President and CEO of NDC, Inc., recently spoke at Share Moving Media’s Healthcare Supply Chain and Distribution Summit 2021, sharing his insights on how the COVID-19 pandemic will change the medical supply chain going forward. Towards the end of the session, Seitz posed some future possibilities for the medical supply chain.

Leveraging the strategic national stockpile

The Strategic National Stockpile works as a failsafe for any emerging threats that could hinder or disrupt the medical supply chain from moving materials to where they need to go. According to an NPR report from last November, a combination of “long-standing budget shortfalls, lack of domestic manufacturing, snags in the global supply chain and overwhelming demand has meant that the stockpile is short of the gloves, masks and other supplies needed to weather this winter’s surge in COVID-19 cases.”

Seitz said “I’ve heard some supply chain leaders say ‘Never again will we be caught in a situation where we don’t have those fundamental products for our healthcare providers,’” Seitz said. “It’s all the goods and services that the economy needs, that we’re dependent on.” Going forward, the Strategic National Stockpile could become something greater than just a place to stash everything. It needs to be fully stocked and positioned to meet the dynamic needs of the industry.

Future influence of federal government

Will the federal government influence the future market pricing of medical supply products? Even if we attempt to return to normal, nothing will ever be the same for the medical supply chain. Seitz said, “There won’t be a new normal, but there will be new standards and it will be more expensive to get products into this country.” Shipping products from overseas is already expensive, and it could only get more expensive as new standards are enforced on imported goods.

Find new avenues of distribution

Even if your organization is embracing the well-established distribution in the United States, is that going to be enough to get by in the event of another disruption? Finding different avenues of shipping and distribution could be the key to moving products during a pandemic or a disaster. Seitz said, “Historically, we’re a master distributor. We really were at the mercy of what’s happening with independent distributors and markets.” Exhaust every avenue of distribution to ensure that your healthcare systems are equipped with the supplies they need to save lives.