Transform Healthcare Supply Chains to Drive Higher ROI & Patient Satisfaction

Published On: March 24th, 20225 min read

The supply chain is a little like the lyrics of a song that say “(You) only miss the sun when it starts to snow.”Supply chains have always been the lifeblood of healthcare, life sciences, pharma, and nearly every other business. But the challenges of the last few years during the pandemic have put a spotlight on how crucial the supply chain is in keeping Global healthcare services running and patients satisfied.

Previously seen as a “back office” function, supply chains and their teams traditionally received less attention than “front of the house” activities. Organizations are now recognizing its importance, even creating Chief Supply Chain Officer positions. That’s because the delivery of goods and services is every bit as critical as the product or service itself, as is the sourcing and cost of the delivery. 

A reliable, diversified supply chain is key to business success. If your organization has identified a need to strengthen its supply chain, following the three pillars outlined below will lead to a more robust supply chain that both drives higher ROI and lifts patient satisfaction.

Pillar 1: Supply Chain Strategy

Putting the supply chain in step with the rest of a healthcare organization has a ripple effect because it touches so many functions across the organization. As such, your supply chain should be as much a strategic element as any other department in your business.

Doing that includes considering cost and reliability as part of the value chain. Cost doesn’t only mean finding the cheapest alternative. Cost may include considerations such as environmental impact, social impact, or continuity. Purchasing from a local supplier may cost more, but the reduced carbon footprint might help your organization meet your goals for green initiatives. 

The supply chain must be integrated with stakeholders across the company, and a modern computation for Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) will take more into account than a simple number on a balance sheet. It requires going beyond managing the supply chain through spreadsheets. Identifying what the true cost is, and achieving alignment with the rest of the organization will likely require changes to the mechanisms that support supply chain operations. That, and other reasons, are why the second pillar is Technology.

Pillar 2: Technology

As was often the case in the past, supply chain management received little in the way of attention or investment. Today, that means that the technology that supports supply chains for healthcare and pharma is largely in need of modernization. A recent survey showed that nearly 75% of supply chain functions rely on spreadsheets, while many are using SAP’s supply-chain-planning application APO, which will see support sunsetted in 2027.

It isn’t just about the use of new, shiny applications. Updated technology offers innovative ways to analyze supply chain operations, costs, and needs, including the use of automation and AI. This can lead to better and more accurate cost analysis, giving healthcare organizations the ability to better align the cost of services. It also offers the chance to leverage predictive models that ensure facilities have the right amount of supplies.  

Getting to that level of maturity and other proactive insights requires data from a multitude of sources. In order to achieve this, DMI has been working with healthcare organisations to implement a data fabric to combine data services across the supply chain and provide consistent capabilities across a choice of endpoints spanning hybrid multi-cloud environments. For instance, patient data may reside in several places, from the operating theater to a primary care physician’s office, even to the patient’s own mobile device. A data fabric allows all of that information to be brought together, helping the provider better understand and predict needs and empowering supply chain management to have the right materials in place at the right time.

Of course, any discussion of healthcare and pharma information, especially across the supply chain, must go hand in hand with considerations for compliance. Here, too, technology can better equip the supply chain function. Maintaining compliance requirements and reporting can be streamlined with automation, and checks can be done and recorded in an accessible, trackable, and transparent manner with interconnected systems.

Pillar 3: Culture

The last pillar for supply chain management improvement is culture. This has to do with cultural fit, and this comes back to being a champion for change within the organization. This aspect is an integral part of sustainability, company achievements, and purpose. Supply chain operations is in a unique position to not only support but also to enable that function within a healthcare organization. Because it touches nearly every aspect, the supply chain plays a part in shaping the vision promoting continuous improvement, and embedding a culture of innovation.

This, too, requires an underpinning of data and technology to achieve. Improving the function through change and innovation-driven by data leads to greater patient satisfaction, which in turn reflects on the other functions of the organization. This can make supply chain management a leader in creating a culture of innovation, effectively flipping the script on the traditional view of the function in the organization.

Defining the Path to Improved Supply Chain Operations

DMI has helped organizations across healthcare and life sciences to elevate their supply chain operations through strategy, technology, and culture. For those businesses looking to improve their supply chains and recognize their role as an integral part of the organization, our experts can help you assess, audit, and transform the supply chain function. 

When you engage with DMI, we’re able to bring those countless hours of work with other healthcare and pharma organizations with us, so that you benefit from the work we have done across the globe. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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