6 healthcare executives on managing supply chain disruptions 

Supply chain issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic have led leaders at health systems across the U.S. to develop innovative solutions to manage disruptions. 

This compilation features guidance from leaders at six systems who shared insights with Becker's via email.

Question: What is the single most important change or strategy you have implemented within the last year to minimize disruptions to your system's supply chain? 

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Motz Feinberg. Vice president of supply chain, Cedars-Sinai Health System (Los Angeles): “In a nutshell, managing our supply chain during the pandemic has been all about clinical integration, data-driven decision-making and collaboration across our health system. Cedars-Sinai Health System supply chain teams leverage both our internal as well as supplier projection models and engage through a structured, daily cadence of checks, so we can forecast and pivot as needed. Collaborating with clinicians and hospitals across the enterprise, we secure supplies critical to patient care and hold them for future distribution.”

Steve Pohlman. Executive director clinical supply chain, Cleveland Clinic: "The most important characteristic we have stressed throughout the last year is the ability to remain resilient. This came in many forms, including managing utilization, forecasting short-term demand, increasing stock levels of critical items, researching raw material shortages, making quick decisions when necessary and adapting to the rapidly changing needs brought on by the pandemic."

Jake Limbert. Director of supply chain operations and logistics, UCSF Health (San Francisco): "We have primarily, among a host of other things, engaged in two prevalent strategies to insulate our organization from supply chain disruptions. The first is enhanced clinician engagement in vetting secondary and tertiary substitutes while understanding their workflows to better understand which product is more vital to their clinical viability. We focus our sourcing efforts on "must haves" rather than "nice to haves."  Additionally, we have visited the gemba to understand how certain products are utilized to better understand if our expertise can provide additional insight or suggestions. Secondly, we have established nontraditional avenues to acquiring products. We have created relationships with reputable suppliers previously not on our radar and also opened, via our relationship with Salesforce, direct procurement from suppliers in Asia."  

Jesse Stanton. Director of supply chain integration, Parkview Health (Fort Wayne, Ind.): "During the last year, Parkview Health has been able to minimize supply chain disruptions by expanding our centralized distribution center. By utilizing adjacent space, we were able to double our square footage and lean forward on increasing critical inventory. The additional inventory was not only important to accommodate for increased demand and a high number of back-ordered products, but also to lessen the supply chain constraints due to shipping delays and raw material shortages."

Robert Glenning. President of financial and information technology services divisions and CFO, Hackensack Meridian Health (Edison, N.J.): "A major advantage of Hackensack Meridian Health, a 17-hospital network, is centralized procurement. We also have an exceptional supply chain management team headed by Karl Blomback which is extremely resourceful and continues to maintain ample supplies for all hospitals and care locations." 

Amanda Chawla, chief supply chain officer and vice president for Stanford Health Care, Stanford Children’s Health and Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare (Palo Alto, Calif.): "We recognized early that the way the supply chain fundamentally operates — from the process, systems, technology, and how our teams communicate — needed to transform rapidly. Collectively, our staff has worked across the enterprise to maintain our patient care capabilities through multiple rapid-response processes. We have invested in technology, analytics, process redesign, warehousing, forecasting and logistics management. Additionally, integrated clinical partnerships have been critical for quickly approving acceptable product equivalents, as this and conservation efforts have been, and will and continue to be, core elements of our approach. In short, there has not been a single process or strategy that minimizes disruptions; it is the collective approach with our partners across the organization that has allowed Stanford supply chain to minimize impacts." 

 

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