The Healthcare Hub

Healthcare Supply Chain 2019: A Look Forward

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The outlook for the 2019 healthcare supply chain is an ebb and flow of constantly responding to changing direction and approach to process improvement, new technologies and changing industry trends. The landscape is becoming more and more complex for our leaders to navigate, and keep pace, while continuing to demonstrate financial improvements across the organization.

Healthcare organizations today are taking a step back to evaluate the approach to patient care environments while improving standards for Cost, Quality, and Outcomes (CQO). We are beginning to see many new partnerships in the provider space for innovative strategies to address rising supply costs, clinical demands and financial responsibility.

Integration of non-acute and academic supply chain

One of the most prevalent changes to the footprint of providing healthcare has been the integration of the non-acute (out-patient surgery center, physician clinic, etc.) commerce into the acute model. The non-acute financials have traditionally been independent of the acute care hospital in which they are associated. Acquisition of supplies, technology and financials are often outsourced to a management organization or managed as a separate entity, and often not managed with the same vigor as the acute care “parent.”

In much the same mis-aligned approach, academic medical centers do not have much parallel with the academic commerce. This is a lost opportunity in the likely commonalities with workflow, supplier landscape and technologies that can be aligned and leveraged for optimization across the entire university health system framework.

There is a definite movement of aligning both the non-acute and university health system commerce to identify and associate opportunities for parallels in the areas of contracting, acquisition and fiscal measures. We are beginning to see consolidation of technologies for the academia and medical systems to support financial visibility, human capital and more recently, supply chain.

Managing data as a valued corporate asset

An area that has immense potential for healthcare systems is in the improved understanding of available data to gain insight, how that will improve the use of resources and how those resources will align to the business.

The plethora of data that is available to our healthcare organizations today is overwhelming at times. Where the data is sourced and maintained, how the data is shared and measured, leveraging the data to improve bottom lines, and reporting on population health are all areas where hospitals struggle to create a roadmap that can support the changing resources, requirements, and requests. Data is in fact one of the greatest resources that a healthcare system possesses. With a good data strategy in place, organizations can utilize that data as a valued corporate asset that can be powerful and a pinnacle to effective strategic policy.

The organizations that have been successful with using data as an asset have been able to demonstrate substantial gains and create a significant business model for innovative partnerships and extensive policy for engagement.

Supplier Provider Collaboration 

A key area where data can be used as a valued corporate asset is supplier/provider collaboration in supply chain. In the new era of integrated supply chain, distribution models and supplier/provider strategic partnerships, a data-fueled platform will play a massive role in the checks and balances of a gainful relationship for both parties. Referencing the collection of data that is available today, both for the supplier and provider, it is of the utmost importance to work from a data set that both agree are valid, constructive and measurable. Once identified, this data set can be used to measure the effectiveness of a partnership, a specific initiative or the dynamics of a strategic collaboration that reach far beyond the commerce exchange “buying and selling” of goods.

The three key influences referenced above ultimately revolve around data. Understanding data, how to use the data, when and how to engage partners with data will be key in 2019 and beyond. Now that we are becoming a data driven industry, it will be imperative that organizations have the infrastructure to support complex data strategies, the policy and strategy to leverage the data, and the collaborations to affect healthcare in a way that facilitates a path to better cost, better quality and better outcomes for the patients that we serve.

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Sophie Rutherford

Major Accounts Executive, GHX