The Healthcare Hub

The Year the Healthcare Supply Chain Solidified its Strategic Role

Monday, January 11, 2016

At GHX, like many of you, we’ve been engaged in weeks of strategic planning for 2016. The opportunities in front of us and for our customers are significant. But before I get to how I see 2016 evolving for the healthcare supply chain industry, I want to reflect on the past 12 months and the major themes, events and changes that moved the healthcare industry in 2015.

It is no surprise that healthcare has been in the throes of change for quite some time. While reform has been a major driver, many healthcare professionals also spurred change by recognizing that the industry was not sustainable in its traditional form. All parties along the healthcare continuum increasingly took a hard look at the way they did business to identify new, innovative ways to cut costs and improve patient care. Not an easy feat.

While most forward-thinking healthcare organizations had already recognized the supply chain as a strategic business process vs. just a transaction-focused operation, 2015 marked the year the rest of the industry caught up.

Regardless of the industry, clean, accurate data is a goldmine for insights and improvements. This past year, we’ve seen many providers take advantage of their supply chain data to make better decisions not only for cost-cutting measures, but to improve and, at times, standardize patient care. Supply chain data is bringing unprecedented understanding of where there is real value to be leveraged.

This past year, the team at GHX has also seen a sharp increase in the number of physician/supply chain teams within our hospital customers. This is extraordinary because, for years, these two groups rarely, if ever, interacted. These “clinically integrated supply chains” are making major organizational and patient-care improvements by meeting regularly to share ideas, compare products and outcomes, and learn from supply chain data.

We’ve even seen glimmers of supply chain involvement in predictive analytics, using data to better anticipate what will be needed and enable providers to not lose speed if a product is discontinued or backordered. Other customers have experimented with expanding their supply chains outside the traditional in-patient/out-patient facility to ensure patients get the care they need, wherever they are physically located.

What I’ve described here is just a small number of the innovative shifts that took place in the healthcare supply chain industry in 2015 and are setting up even more innovation and improvement in 2016. The role the supply chain is taking on, in a changing healthcare landscape, is an amazing thing to watch and be a part of.

Next up, I’ll share my predictions for 2016!

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Bruce Johnson

Executive Chairman