Looking into the Crystal Ball: The Future Healthcare Supply Chain | GHX

Bruce Johnson

President and Chief Executive Officer
Sunday, February 15, 2015

Looking into the Crystal Ball: The Future Healthcare Supply Chain

During the past two months, the team at GHX conducted numerous interviews with some of our most forward-thinking provider and supplier customers. The topic of these interviews was the “Supply Chain of the Future.” We weren’t talking “future” in the sense of a year or two out, but rather 10-to-20 years in the future – when the healthcare industry will look very different than it does today.

During the past two months, the team at GHX conducted numerous interviews with some of our most forward-thinking provider and supplier customers. The topic of these interviews was the “Supply Chain of the Future.” We weren’t talking “future” in the sense of a year or two out, but rather 10-to-20 years in the future – when the healthcare industry will look very different than it does today.

Healthcare has been subject to basic cost-cutting initiatives for some time now. But with the advent of reform and the urgent need to make our industry more sustainable, we still have a long way to go. Healthcare is in the midst of major transformation to not only cut costs, but also to remove waste and improve patient care. The ongoing evolution of healthcare got us thinking about supply chain’s ever-changing role in this transformation. At GHX, we certainly have a vision of what the supply chain will look like, but we wanted to hear directly from providers and suppliers about their views of the future supply chain.

What we learned was fascinating and truly exciting for anyone who knows about the healthcare supply chain and its potential. We learned so much, in fact, that GHX issued a news release detailing the top eight trends of the future healthcare supply chain. I’ve summarized them for you below:

  • Goldmine of Data: All of the interviewees said the supply chain of the future (SCF) will provide a goldmine of data that can be leveraged across the business. This will give organizations an unprecedented understanding of where there is real value.
  • Strategic Involvement: As the value of the supply chain is realized across an organization, many of our interviewees predicted the SCF to have a more prominent seat in the C-suite. 
  • Leading the Standardization of Care: One of the most significant ways healthcare will become sustainable is by focusing on the standardization of care. The SCF will guide this change with its valuable data, which can help guide better pricing, outcomes and patient decisions. 
  • Clinician Partnerships: The SCF will be “clinically integrated,” which means that supply chain professionals and clinicians will work side-by-side for the greater good of the patient. 
  • Seamless, Predictive Process: The SCF will be predictive in nature, and fluid and fast in getting products to clinicians, when and where they need it. 
  • Strong Trading-Partner Relationships: At GHX, we have long promoted the strengthening of provider and supplier relationships, so it was encouraging to hear interviewees say the SCF will have trading partners working closely together to align incentives and improve patient care. 
  • We Will Follow You: The SCF will no longer reside within the in-patient/out-patient facility, but expand to wherever the patient is physically located. This is due to consolidation, but also reducing patient-readmission rates, which we all know is a core tenet of reform. 
  • Personalized Medicine for Informed Consumers: The SCF will have to adapt to disruptive technologies (3D printing, improved imaging, etc.) with new manufacturing and buying processes. This is also the case with the more connected healthcare consumer. The SCF will have to be prepared for consumers to shop for products/implants like they do online.


I encourage you to read the news release, which provides more details on these trends. In fact, we gleaned so much great information from our clients that we’re planning a “Supply Chain of the Future” blog series to explore these trends (and more) over the coming months. Keep an eye on the Healthcare Hub!

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