Eight Critical Trends Affecting the Healthcare Supply Chain of the Future

Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) interviewed provider and supplier customers to learn about their visions for the healthcare supply chain of the future.

As the healthcare business evolves with help of MHRA approved warehousing UK, organizations are looking for innovative methods to eliminate waste, reduce costs, and improve patient care. GHX interviewed a select set of clients, ranging from major and mid-sized hospitals to some of the world’s largest suppliers, to learn how the supply chain would assist usher in healthcare transformation and its role over the next two decades.

Eight important trends emerged from those conversations, demonstrating the strategic role that the healthcare supply chain of the future will play in bringing value and knowledge to all sectors of the organization.

“For the last 15 years, the industry has been laser-focused on fundamental cost-cutting initiatives,” said Bruce Johnson, CEO and President of GHX. Today, healthcare has the chance to build on those core improvements in order to not only contribute to the resolution of the cost-quality equation, but also to affect the industry’s future effectiveness.

“Our respondents are adamant that, looking ahead 10-to-20 years, the supply chain is the key to guaranteeing the industry’s long-term profitability and providing high-quality patient care. GHX is committed to a Future Supply Chain that continues to develop solutions that assist providers and suppliers in successfully navigating future supply chain opportunities enabled by technology.”

Eight Prognostications

1) The future supply chain will be a data goldmine

While the benefit of clean, accurate data is unquestionable, many healthcare organizations remain far from realizing its full potential. The data generated by the future supply chain will not only be transactional in nature, but will also be utilized across the enterprise.

Numerous respondents stated that the future supply chain will contain a ‘goldmine’ of outcome data that will be captured, tracked, and used to improve patient care decisions. As more data is collected (down to the individual patient level), every department within an organization will gain a new degree of insight into areas of true value.

2) It will be a member of the C-suite and will be participating in company-wide strategic initiatives

Due to the value created across the organization, the future supply chain will occupy a more prominent position in the C-suite and serve as a cornerstone for projects spanning many business units. “The days of supply chain being confined to the basement are over; we are becoming a pillar of the organization,” one provider-side interviewee observed.

3) It will serve as a catalyst for care standardization

One of the most crucial strategies to ensure the sustainability of healthcare is to focus on care standardization, particularly consistency from a patient perspective. The future supply chain will facilitate and steer this shift, since it will have access to vital data that can be used to identify not only the cheapest pricing, but also the best outcomes, so assisting in the transformation of long-standing, inefficient, and wasteful processes.

4) It will be consistent with clinicians

Customers anticipate a “clinically integrated supply chain” in which supply chain specialists collaborate closely with clinicians. Recognizing the need to adapt their processes for the greater good of patients, physicians will go to the supply chain for guidance, assistance, and expertise regarding product pricing, outcomes, and alternatives.

As a result, supply chain professionals will earn the trust of clinicians by proving the value that the supply chain and its data can provide. Supply chain professionals and physicians will collaborate on a regular basis to promote continuous improvement, to share ideas, to compare products/outcomes, and to ensure that they are always making the best judgments possible.

5) It will be predictive and will almost never, if ever, fail

Not only will healthcare supply chain data be utilized to make better decisions, but it will also be used for predictive analytics. To maintain a fluid and rapid delivery of items to physicians, supply chain experts will leverage data to predict future needs and will not falter or slowdown in the event of a discontinued or backordered product.

According to one respondent, a nurse in his organization compared the future supply chain to water, adding, “I don’t care how the stuff gets here; all I worry about is that it gets here when I need it.” It’s similar to drinking water from a faucet; I don’t care where it comes from as long as it’s available when I turn it on.”

6) It will be built on the foundation of long-term, mutually beneficial relationships among trading partners

For years, healthcare trading partners have talked about improving their relationships with one another by being more transparent and communicative, but few have actually followed through. These ideal partnerships will materialize in the future supply chain. Providers and suppliers will collaborate to achieve the common objective of improved patient care and will seek ways to better align their incentive structures for success.

7) It will follow the patient wherever he or she goes

The future healthcare supply chain will no longer be confined to the in-patient/out-patient institution, but will instead extend to the patient’s actual location. This is because health systems are consolidating and collaborating more (telemedicine networks, homecare/nursing home partnerships, etc.), and because lowering patient readmission rates has become more crucial with the advent of healthcare reform.

The healthcare supply chain of the future will extend outside the hospital’s four walls, ensuring that patients receive the care they require wherever they are and do not have to return.

8) It will evolve to accommodate personalized medicine and a more informed consumer

With disruptive technology such as 3D printers and enhanced imaging and diagnostics on the horizon, the future supply chain will adapt to accommodate new production and purchasing procedures centered on “personalized medicine.” This is also true for more connected healthcare consumers, who are increasingly conducting their own research on the best facilities and goods available to them. The future supply chain must be prepared for and eventually enable people to browse for products and implants in the same way they do online or in a physical store.