Improving the supply chain issues in the hospital environment, Patient Care

In March 2020, U.S. hospitals faced shortages of critical materials such as N95 masks, ventilators, and even intensive care unit (ICU) beds. 

Quickly, the nation found itself ill-prepared for the pandemic that would take the lives of more than 500,000 people.

Now, more than a year and a half into the public health crisis, experts have joined forces to address many of the supply chain issues that plague American hospitals. This article will highlight the importance of supply chain management for healthcare facilities, all while outlining a better path forward.

Why Supply Chain Management Matters in Healthcare

It’s simple: Strategic supply chain management can optimize resources that are far too often scarce in healthcare. 

Good management, of course, is no substitute for quality care—but both are paramount. And by elevating their supply chain management, facilities can make sure medical practitioners have the resources they need to succeed on the job.

How so? For healthcare organizations to thrive and increase resilience, they need a logistics system designed to ensure the safe and timely delivery of resources. A late delivery, where potentially life-saving medical devices are concerned, could yield dire consequences for patients in critical condition.

Yet for hospitals, costs continue to rise. In fact, the healthcare supply chain management market has experienced a 53% surge from 2016, exceeding $2.2 billion in 2021. Consequently, it has become more important than ever to not only manage, but optimize the supply chain.

Here’s what this means: From inventory processing to shipping, and from warehousing to data analytics, all partners in the supply chain must work transparently to keep goods moving. In this way, an open line of communication—along with live updates and clear inventory processing—is essential. 

And changes are needed to drive improvements.

How Can Hospitals Enhance Their Supply Chain Management?

Healthcare facilities can elevate their supply chain management by better understanding what they need, when they need it (and in what quantities), and how they plan to source the resources required to deliver cutting-edge care.

Already, this been a critical focus. For the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, hospitals have been forced to address a number of supply chain issues in real time, including how to:

  • Optimize patient flow.
  • Share or substitute resources.
  • Develop a hierarchy for procedures that can be postponed.
  • Create new policies involving how long patients can stay in the hospital or in the ICU.

To strengthen the supply chain, providers must first address bottlenecks and then pinpoint the resources they currently have on hand, including beds, medical equipment, and staff. A deep understanding of any gaps that need to be filled is equally paramount—something many facilities have addressed by creating mobile care units and telehealth platforms, and automating equipment delivery during the pandemic.

But that’s not all. More generally speaking, here some strategies for improving supply chain management in the healthcare sector:

  • Make a habit of short-term forecasting.

Planning a few days into the future is certainly better than nothing at all. So, even if you’re facing a mountain of uncertainty, you’ll still want to forecast your supply chain needs a week or two in advance. 

This will allow your organization to optimize flow and hone in on useful short-term decisions. You’ll be well-aware of the bottlenecks you’re more likely to face, and better able to address them by prioritizing short-term forecasting.

  • Pool resources across several departments or organizations.

It may sound counterintuitive: Demand is overwhelming, and resources are limited. But pooling resources across multiple organizations or departments can help everyone involved in optimizing their supply chain.

For instance, maybe your speech therapy department has a few extra N95 masks on hand—and your orthopedic surgeons are running low. Or, perhaps your hospital is short on COVID-19 vaccines, but a facility in a neighboring county has a surplus. With open communication, you can work together to pool resources and manage your supply chain more effectively.

  • Communicate regularly with supply chain partners.

A well-managed healthcare supply chain includes all stakeholders to ensure everything runs smoothly. Be sure to prioritize transparency with your supply chain partners, and help one another out when possible. This will keep information out in the open, helping to increase trust and prevent hoarding.

Sound good? Follow the above best practices, and your facility can work toward higher cost savings and better care delivery in no time.

An Expert Provider Can Take Your Supply Chain to the Next Level

If your hospital is facing supply chain-related challenges, please know that you’re not alone. Not only that, but assistance is available—and your organization can partner with an expert third-party provider to help alleviate stress and optimize the supply chain.

Here at Peach Medical we help to oversee healthcare facilities’:

  • Manufacturers

We choose manufacturers who implement a stringent product testing process, including OEX verification and SGS testing.

  • Freight

Air or ship, we leverage the fastest, most economical freight methods for our clients.

  • Warehousing

Our company operates three warehouses across the United States—in California, Illinois, and in New York and New Jersey.

  • Customer Delivery

Delivery plays a key role in supply chain management. Look no further for a partner who can take on delivery and verification at our warehouse or your door.

Please contact Peach Medical to Learn More.


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