What should hospital and health care system boards concentrate on right now to plan for 2022 and beyond in these unusual circumstances? We anticipate continued disruption to be the norm as organizations navigate the pandemic, and pathways to success will increasingly rely on collaboration, innovation, digitization, and scaling ahead of the competition.
Supplier Networks that are more Strategic and Agile
Supply chains that work well are becoming a key differentiator and an essential component of the care delivery process in ways we have never seen before. It takes strategic thinking about all parts of the organization’s operations to get it right. The following are some items for corporate boards to consider:
- Investing in new warehouses and self-distribution. What was outdated is making a comeback. We see a shift from simply-in-time delivery by distributors to more self-distribution methods. This allows businesses to buy in bulk, manage distribution, and minimize their reliance on vulnerable goods that might run out. Organizations do not have a limitless supply of cash; therefore, this is not a one-size-fits-all procurement approach. However, specific interests in the supply chain may benefit from it.
- Duopoly or monopoly: in a crisis, one vendor may be all that is needed. Back-up suppliers and deeper relationships are required to maintain supplies during the pandemic. The benefit of vendor-of-choice relationships became apparent as hospitals raced for emergency materials throughout the epidemic. It’s about finding a balance between price, performance, and trust. Many organizations are creating connections with lower-level backup suppliers – often smaller and closer to their primary vendors – to gain flexibility, speed, and certainty that critical items will be available when needed.
- New supply chain models will be required to match these new care settings. According to health care futurists, most treatment will be provided at home, in outpatient facilities, or virtually by 2040. Given the evolving nature of this type of care, it will require relationships with various vendors, such as retailers, contractors, and IT professionals. This is a vast but thrilling task: how to rethink supply chains to provide non-hospital-based care at scale in a secure, cost-effective, and high-quality manner.
- Smarter, faster, and more accurate information. Expect more effective use of automation software and artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare supply chains. These technologies may assist decision-makers in detecting patterns, providing staff resources, and freeing workers from repetitive tasks. For example, predictive analytics that examines population health within a company or system might notify managers of emerging disease states and their required supply amounts. Supply chain experts may employ AI technologies to master the new transportation logistics of delivering goods to numerous home care locations across the country.
Today, we may get products the same day we order them and follow their progress from order placement to delivery in real-time. It’s not surprising that patients demand the same level of efficiency and transparency from their medical practitioners. Instead, some patients may wait weeks or months for an appointment while expecting test results soon.
Analytics and patient-centered technologies must be used to enhance the convenience, speed, and transparency of care by organizations. When a West Coast health system implemented precision scheduling methods to reduce the wasted time between imaging procedures, they were able to create 5,000 additional exam slots each year.
Personalization of Care
Patients value personalized attention, even as they desire the convenience and ease of digital interactions. Customized care is still the gold standard of patient loyalty, according to a 2020 poll of health care consumers. Patients demand that clinicians pay attention, demonstrate empathy, and communicate clearly.
Successful program implementation efforts must be linked to outcomes-producing programs to be effective. For example, a large academic medical center established a communication training program to teach physicians how to interact better with patients. Within a year, the proportion of patients who stated that the doctors listened, treated them respectfully, and explained things well improved by 9 points.
We’ll continue to see the development of virtual care solutions across the continuum, including telehealth visits, virtual hospital care, and home-based care. The use of telehealth to conduct primary healthcare appointments was just 1% in February 2020; by April, driven by epidemic conditions, this had increased to 43%. Both patients and physicians appear to be adopting a new virtualization mentality due to this expansion. It will be critical for businesses to stay aligned with their market, growth strategy, and evolving payment models to succeed.
Mr. James Edward is a healthcare industry veteran with over 25 years of experience in medical device and pharmaceutical sales, marketing, and general management. In his previous roles, he has successfully built and managed both domestic and international supplier networks for large medical device and pharmaceutical companies. Do you have any thoughts or questions for Mr. James Edward? Visit our website for more information.
References and Resources