5 ways a NASA-inspired approach strengthened Sutter Health's supply chain

As much of the healthcare supply chain continues to recover from COVID-19 caused disruptions, Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health is looking to the stars, modeling its solution after a NASA problem-solving approach. 

Dubbed the 'tiger team,' the NASA-inspired approach was used after the explosion during the Apollo 13 mission when a team of specialists was created specifically to focus on what the problems were and how to safely move forward.

It prompted Sutter Health to assemble its own focused team of experts across disciplines related to its supply chain to identify pain-points and critical solutions specifically related to issues caused by COVID-19, according to the Aug. 7 release.

"With the initial tiger team, the task was twofold — find ways to secure product and manage supply disruption in an entirely new context," Josh Long, a supervisor for Sutter Health’s stock control team, said in a statement. "This experience laid the groundwork for us to establish a stock control department — a strategic hub designed to manage and mitigate supply disruptions proactively."

The tiger team assembled to make improvements to Sutter Health's supply chain focused on:

  1. Removing redundant processes.

  2. Sourcing alternate products in the event of a shortage.

  3. Identifying when to engage in spot buys with manufacturers to bypass distributors.

  4. Utilizing predictive backorder reports.

  5. Using an order management portal to keep track of substitute options, any cancellations and more.

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