AHA: Supply chain won't return to 'normal' anytime soon, but here's what you can do

The American Hospital Association argues that the healthcare supply chain is not going to be back to "normal" anytime soon, despite estimates that still project its growth.

"The vision of a more stable and predictable supply chain after peak product and drug shortages during the pandemic is looking more and more like a mirage," an AHA blog post reads. 

Several hospitals and pharmaceutical companies are continuing to grapple with disruptions in the supply chain that have caused shortages ranging from medical devices, personal protective equipment, medications and more. The reasons behind these shortages are often as different and wide-ranging as the shortages themselves, the AHA wrote, including because of "raw materials shortages, recent COVID-19 outbreaks in China [and] low margins on some drugs."

In fact, according to data from the Health Industry Distributors Association, 93 percent of providers have said that not only are they still experiencing shortages, but the shortages are "more widespread" and "have become more difficult to anticipate." 

Lacking any sweeping solution in the meantime, HIDA recommends health systems and hospitals take four actions:

  1. Designate a role for someone who can actively engage and collaborate with clinicians about the supply chain.

  2. When examining supply issues for your hospital or health system, think of ways to visibly refine other aspects of the processes associated with it such as by reducing waste etc.

  3. Keep supply chain planning forward-looking because relying on historical data and trends from a pandemic era can keep things stuck.

  4. In trying to optimize inventory management, be sure to integrate ways for distributors to work with providers effectively to this end.

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