4 reasons medical supply chain professionals are the heart of the hospital

February is a time where we focus on our hearts – both how we share our hearts and keep them healthy. It can also be a reminder for all of us in healthcare to take a moment to recognize a group of people who are the “heart” of the hospital: supply chain professionals.

The supply chain is the center of all health system operations—ensuring essential products are where they need to be when they need to be there, all while knowing patient health is at the center of everything they do. Supply chain professionals often get overlooked, so here are four reasons to recognize your colleagues as the “heart” of the hospital.

  1. They pump essential supplies to every corner of the hospital.

    Just as the human heart pumps blood to every organ and limb in the body, supply chain professionals pump essential supplies to every department of the hospital. With the unique opportunity to support every area of your hospital comes the responsibility of developing a deep understanding of each department’s needs. Though their work spans an ever-widening continuum of care, they unite manufacturers, suppliers, and clinicians through the common goal of improved patient outcomes at the lowest possible cost. In a time when hospitals are driven to do more with less, they collaborate with a variety of stakeholders including nurses, physicians, and hospital executives to bring sound reasoning and diversity of perspective into every decision they make.

  2. In high-pressure environments, they can adapt quickly and professionally.

    Our hearts must adapt to both external and internal stimuli, increasing or decreasing heart rate to keep all systems running smoothly despite change. In the complex and ever-changing world of healthcare, supply chain professionals must navigate a high-stakes atmosphere in a similar way.  Whether stimulated by external crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, or smaller problems specific to that health system, supply chain professionals  must navigate change while keeping the best interest of the patients at the forefront. According to a recent Cardinal Health survey[i], over 50% of respondents working in the supply chain space have been in the healthcare industry for 20 years or longer. This real-world experience provides them with the finely-honed expertise necessary to address problems as they arise with confidence and ease.

  3. When everything is running smoothly, their hard work often gets overlooked.

    Even though supply chain professionals play an integral role in optimizing patient care, their efforts may not be immediately visible. Just like our own hearts working tirelessly behind the scenes, a supply chain at peak performance should appear to function effortlessly, automatically, and seamlessly. Though shielding your hospital from negative change can be a herculean task, their efforts allow the care you provide to remain uninterrupted. Since these professionals rarely seek the spotlight for their crucial contributions, it’s up to you to demonstrate that their actions have not gone unnoticed.

  4. They wear more hats than their titles may suggest.

    In addition to their daily efforts to ensure that hospital staff has the products necessary for high-quality patent care, these professionals may also take on the roles of financial expert, data whiz, safety officer, and advocate for change. Whether they’re leveraging state-of-the-art analytics technology to transform data points into actionable improvements or coordinating with other colleagues to generate momentum for positive change, their multi-faceted work experience allows them to see potential problems in the supply chain from a variety of viewpoints.

This February, we invite you to take a moment to celebrate your supply chain colleagues for being the heart of your hospital. They support patient safety and make more efficient, seamless care a reality. It’s a privilege to work with them as they set the future of healthcare in motion.

For more supply chain tips and best practices, visit cardinalhealth.com/supplychaincenter.

[i] [1] About the Cardinal Health Hospital Supply Chain Survey

The survey was fielded January 16-28, 2019, using an online methodology. Samples drawn from SERMO’s online panel of health care providers included 306 total respondents from various health care organizations working in the following roles: “frontline” clinicians, including surgeons, nurses and physicians (n=81); hospital administrators, including hospital management, vice presidents, senior directors, “C-suite” personnel, and equivalent titles (n=75); supply chain decision makers, including vice presidents, supply chain managers, nurse managers, operating room (OR) nurses and purchasing agents (n=75); and procedural department management personnel, including chief medical directors, catheter lab managers and OR/theater managers (n=75).

All survey data on file at Cardinal Health.

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