The Healthcare Hub

2016: The Acceleration of Healthcare Supply Chain Maturity

Thursday, January 14, 2016

For the last few years, the team at GHX has made yearly predictions for the healthcare supply chain – often anticipating major trends, challenges and opportunities for the industry. And, most times, I’m proud to say we’ve been fairly accurate with those predictions! In 2016, we’re continuing that tradition with the release of our top five trends for the year

While we’ll briefly review the trends later in this post, I encourage you to read more about them in our news release. But first, I wanted to call out the high-level theme that encompasses all of the individual trends: the acceleration of healthcare supply chain maturity.

For decades, the healthcare supply chain was considered to lag behind other industries, notably automotive, retail and manufacturing. And, for all intents and purposes, that evaluation was correct. While one could argue that, for healthcare, organizations are ultimately dealing with people vs. things, the industry still needed to reevaluate supply chain processes through automation, standardization and innovation.  

In my 2015 trends blog post, I discussed this healthcare supply chain evolution in more detail. Spurred on by healthcare reform and the overwhelming need to make the industry more sustainable by improving patient care while reducing costs, the supply chain became the main resource to get this done. We’ve seen providers and suppliers alike reinvent their supply chains from transaction-driven processes to strategic, data-driven operations that are the backbones of bringing value back to healthcare.

While the last few years have been defined by supply chain innovation and exploration in healthcare, I expect to see 2016 mark the true acceleration of healthcare supply chain maturity. What I mean by this is that the healthcare supply chain has been considered and leveraged as a strategic resource for several years; but now, we’ll see the technology evolve to a level of sophistication that will bring it closer to (or perhaps even surpass in some areas) supply chain technologies in other industries.

I believe, in 2016 we’ll see the even more industry-wide supply chain best practices, technology-enabled experimentation, more sophisticated data analysis and stronger security measures. The next evolution of healthcare – the rise of personalized medicine – will also push the supply chain to evolve into an increasingly real-time, transparent and flexible process.   

With that preface in mind, here’s a quick look at all of the trends we believe will mark 2016:

  • Operational experimentation: Embracing process and product flexibility and experimentation to find the right formula for patient and business success.
  • Personalized medicine: Laying the supply chain groundwork to better adapt to increasingly informed, connected healthcare consumers and the emergence of disruptive technologies like 3D printing. 
  • Data management: Working on ways to control and manage data in ways that will fulfill both regulatory and commercial aspects of healthcare businesses.
  • Security: Strengthening credentialing requirements in preparation for impending government audits.
  • Metrics: Accepting industry-wide metrics and measurement best practices, led by provider and supplier innovators who have been leveraging the supply chain for many years.

Prepare a seat for healthcare among the other titans of supply chain—we’re on our way!  

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Bruce Johnson

Executive Chairman