The Healthcare Supply Chain

shutterstock_99693977It doesn’t take much to uncover the biggest issues facing the healthcare sector. It’s likely something covered in today’s news.

Price pressures have trickled down throughout the sector—leaving no aspect of the vast system, which accounted for 17 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product in 2015, untouched. Skyrocketing costs and reductions in government reimbursements have created challenges throughout the supply chain. Supply chains can play a vital role in helping to overcome those challenges—but they must play a part in helping meet new regulatory guidelines.

Todd Ebert, president of the Healthcare Supply Chain Association, sees the industry with an intense pressure on cost control. “Everything from price, utilization and reduction in care variation are all important elements in reducing overall expenses while maintaining and improving the quality of patient care,” he said.

While pricing may grab headlines, it is far from the only issue affecting the healthcare sector.

“Supply chain is rapidly changing from a transactional profession to one that is strategic,” said Michael Schiller, CMRP, senior director, supply chain, for the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM). “Supply costs represent the second-largest expense in an organization, and the role of the supply chain professional should represent this level of significance.”

Schiller cites the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s “Triple Aim,” which purports that any healthcare system must be designed to meet three goals: Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita costs of healthcare.

“The supply chain is moving away from a product-centric focus to one that is patient-centric, aligning with the goals of the Triple Aim,” Schiller said. “Healthcare should be looked at as an eco-system with all parts dependent upon and collaborating with one another. Supply chain sits at this intersection and is best suited to collaborate with both internal and external stakeholders in leading the charge into the new and exciting world of healthcare.”

So where will this new world take material handling and supply chain management?

By Sandy Smith

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