As the healthcare industry continues to change, organizations are seeking new ways to remove waste, cut costs and improve patient care. Healthcare supply chain provider, Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) recently spoke with a select group of customers, from large and mid-sized hospitals to some of the biggest suppliers in the world, for their perspectives on how the supply chain will help usher in healthcare transformation and its role in the coming two decades.
Based on those interviews, here are eight key trends that illustrate the strategic role the healthcare supply chain of the future will play in delivering value and insight to all areas of the organization.
1. The Future Healthcare Supply Chain will be a goldmine for data.
The value of clean, accurate data is undisputed, but many healthcare organizations have a long way to go to realize its full potential. The data coming from the Future Supply Chain will not only be transaction-focused, but also leveraged business wide. Many interviewees noted the future supply chain will sit on a “goldmine” of outcomes data that will be documented, recorded and used to make better decisions for patient care. As more data is collected (down to the patient level), every department within an organization will have an unprecedented understanding of where there is real value.
2. The Future Supply Chain will be part of the C-suite and involved in strategic projects across the organization.
Thanks to the value realized across the organization, the future supply chain will have a more prominent seat in the C-suite and be a linchpin in projects across different areas of the business. One provider-side interviewee noted, “Gone are the days where the supply chain was relegated to the basement – we are becoming a pillar of the organization.”
3. The Future Supply Chain will lead the standardization of care.
One of the most significant ways healthcare will become sustainable is by focusing on the standardization of care, particularly consistency from a patient perspective. The future supply chain will support and guide this change, as it sits on valuable data that can help determine not only the best price, but also the best outcomes, which will help change long-standing, inefficient and wasteful processes.
4. The Future Supply Chain will be in lockstep with clinicians.
Customers predict a “clinically integrated supply chain,” where supply chain professionals and clinicians work closely and side by side. Physicians, recognizing they need to adjust their processes for the greater good of patients, will look to the supply chain for guidance, support and knowledge on product price points, outcomes and alternatives. In turn, supply chain professionals will gain clinician trust by demonstrating the value the supply chain – and its data – can deliver. Supply chain and clinicians will meet regularly to help ensure continuous improvements, share ideas, compare products/outcomes and they are always making the informed decisions.
5. The Future Supply Chain will be predictive and rarely, if ever, falter.
Future supply chain data will not only be used to make better decisions, but also leveraged for predictive analytics. To be fluid and fast in getting products to clinicians, supply chain professionals will use data to better anticipate what will be needed, and not falter or lose speed if a product is discontinued or backordered. One interviewee commented that a nurse within his organization likened the future supply chain to water, saying: “I don’t care how the product gets here, I just want it when I need it. It’s like water from the tap – I don’t care where it comes from, as long as it’s there when I turn it on.”
6. The Future Supply Chain will be based on long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between trading partners.
For years, healthcare trading partners have talked about creating better, more transparent and communicative relationships with each other, but few have actually “walked the talk.” In the future supply chain, these ideal relationships will come to fruition. Providers and suppliers will work toward the mutual goal of improved patient care and find ways to better align incentives to succeed.
7. The Future Supply Chain will expand to wherever the patient goes.
The future supply chain will no longer solely reside within the in-patient/out-patient facility, but rather expand to wherever the patient is physically located. This is due to greater consolidation and collaboration among health systems (telemedicine networks, homecare/nursing home partnerships, etc.), as well as because reducing patient readmission rates has become more critical with the advent of healthcare reform. The Future supply chain will be extended past the four walls of the hospital to help ensure patients get the care they need, wherever they are – and do not return to the hospital.
8. The Future Supply Chain will adapt to personalized medicine and the more-informed consumer.
With disruptive technologies on the horizon like 3D printers and improved imaging and diagnostics, the future supply chain will adapt with new manufacturing and buying processes around “personalized medicine.” This is also the case with more connected healthcare consumers, who are increasingly researching the best hospitals and products for them. The future supply chain has to be prepared for and eventually allow consumers to shop for products and implants like they do online or at a brick and mortar store.