In the wake of important lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations are rethinking their supply chains. Embracing advanced technology and modern data strategies will enable healthcare organizations to improve operational and financial performance, enhance patient care and guard against future pandemics, natural disasters or other supply chain disruptions. In support of the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management’s (AHRMM) annual National Health Care Supply Chain Week, October 3-9, 2021, GHX has outlined five best practices to help build more agile, resilient supply chains.
“COVID-19 underscored the supply chain’s role as a strategic partner in the delivery of care as well as the urgency with which healthcare must become more data-driven,” said Bruce Johnson, president and CEO, GHX. “We may not be able to prevent future disruptions, but by modernizing supply chain processes, we will ensure healthcare organizations can better use data to respond more nimbly during times of crisis.”
GHX highlights five of its best practices for strengthening the healthcare supply chain:
Shore up Gaps in Automation
As the industry works to build more resilient supply chains, business process automation will accelerate. In fact, Gartner estimates the COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked digital adoption by five years. While the healthcare industry has made great progress in automating supply chain processes, COVID-19 illustrated that large gaps in procure-to-pay automation remain. Moving forward, the healthcare industry must bring even greater levels of automation to the procure-to-pay cycle. One area of focus for both providers and suppliers will be to speed the adoption of electronic invoicing and payments. This will reduce the costs associated with manual processes and enable more fluid decision-making around cash management.
Develop a Modern Data Strategy to Increase Visibility, Transparency
The healthcare industry comprises many stakeholders that create and depend on data. Historically, healthcare data has resided in silos with poor cross-system communications, limiting collaboration, visibility and transparency. The healthcare supply chain experienced the crippling effects of this lack of visibility during the early days of the pandemic. A recent survey by EY found that improved supply chain visibility is the number one business priority during the next three years. To achieve this, healthcare must fix its data issues. The first step is to establish a modern data strategy that integrates and normalizes data across multiple stakeholders and ensures it is clean, accurate and can flow easily across systems.
Succeed with Cloud Transformations
Gartner forecasts the enterprise resource planning (ERP) market will reach $44 billion by 2022, with much of that growth driven by the adoption of cloud-based systems. In healthcare, moving to a cloud-based ERP system enables real-time integration with other cloud-based systems, such as electronic health records and accounts payable. By linking the supply chain with financial and clinical systems, organizations can better assess how supply choices influence total cost of care, revenue and reimbursement, safety, quality and the patient experience. However, cloud-based ERP systems are only as valuable as the data that power them. In developing a cloud ERP strategy, healthcare organizations must find a technology partner with healthcare and supply chain expertise to ensure that the supply chain data powering the ERP system will provide the insight necessary to improve patient outcomes and lower the cost of care.
Improve Healthcare Cost and Quality through Clinically Integrated Supply Chains
As healthcare looks to rebound from the financial impact of the pandemic, there’s a renewed urgency to turn data into the critical asset it’s meant to be – one that will drive greater financial, operational and clinical performance. Healthcare providers have invested in various technologies and systems, including EHRs, ERPs and supply chain automation, to modernize their infrastructures and business processes. But these systems must be integrated with clinical systems to facilitate the cross-functional collaboration needed to drive more informed decision-making across the entire care continuum. For example, supply chain teams will be empowered to make purchasing decisions on factors such as clinical evidence and more accurately track the financial and clinical outcomes of those decisions.
Build Proactive, Predictive Supply Chains
The pandemic brought to light the reactive nature of today’s healthcare supply chains. The healthcare industry is awash in data with very little ability to draw the necessary insights to make informed, agile decisions. Forward-looking organizations must accelerate the adoption of predictive analytics to gain the insights that are essential for planning and strategic decision-making – especially in times of crisis. Predictive analytics is poised to be a game-changer in the healthcare supply chain, from better anticipating and matching supply and demand to creating more personalized care pathways.
Working Together to Create a Modern Healthcare Supply Chain
If healthcare is to become more resilient, providers and suppliers must continue to share knowledge freely and often. Summit 365 is a year-round program bringing together providers, suppliers, distributors, and GPOs to share best practices that promote better patient care and the strategies for lowering the cost to deliver it. For direct access, visit the Summit 365 homepage.
Join us at @GHX_LLC and LinkedIn throughout the week to hear from the industry’s most inspiring supply chain leaders about their professional stories, how they have overcome the challenges of the past year and what lies ahead.
Building on decades of collaboration among providers, manufacturers, distributors and other industry stakeholders, Global Healthcare Exchange, LLC (GHX) is leading the charge in helping organizations run the new business of healthcare. By automating key business processes and translating evidence-based analytics and data into meaningful action, GHX is helping the healthcare ecosystem to move faster, operate more intelligently and achieve greater outcomes. With the support of GHX, healthcare organizations have removed billions of dollars of wasteful healthcare spend. For more information on GHX’s suite of world-class, cloud-based supply chain solutions, visit www.ghx.com and The Healthcare Hub. GHX has also launched a COVID-19 Information Center that provides a wealth of free resources and access to data and information needed to help serve patients and protect staff during the pandemic.