Health system leader shares best practices on forecasting and supply chain resiliency

In a time when the healthcare supply chain industry is a dynamic and complex environment, it is important to learn from each other’s supply strategies.

The healthcare sector is reexamining how to build greater flexibility into supply chains while preserving efficiency and preparing for future shocks to the system. Sharing best practices can uncover opportunities for improvement and allow facilities to reallocate their resources for both long and short-term supply chain success.  

Recently, Becker’s Hospital Review gathered health system leaders for a panel discussion on the current state of the healthcare supply chain as part of a Supply Chain Forum, which was sponsored by Cardinal Health. The panel, The Supply Chain Reimagined: Best Ideas and Concepts for Sharper Processes Now, featured James Sembrot, senior vice president of U.S. supply chain at Cardinal Health. One discussion focused on forecasting programs and their ability to improve supply chain resiliency through data visibility. 

According to Sembrot, “Cardinal Health believes collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CPFR) could be beneficial for healthcare supply chains. While this disciplined process is relatively new to healthcare, retailers and consumer packaged goods companies have excelled at CPFR for years. “We know we’ll get improved results by jointly reviewing our plans and contingencies with both our customers and suppliers. With CPFR, we are disciplined between health system, distributor, and key manufacturers in reviewing our service and operating metrics, locking in on a consensus forecast, reviewing supply performance, and creating the best possible ‘Plan A,’” Sembrot said. “Now for ‘Plan B,’ we’ve invested in Kinaxis’ Rapid Response software to help us generate options and choices for when something goes different than we had collectively planned,” Sembrot added.

As healthcare organizations develop and execute supply chain strategies, leaders must think explicitly about resiliency. Cardinal Health helps clients shift their mindsets. “In our optimization models, we’ve changed how we think about delivering to a certain service level,” Sembrot said. “It’s not just about low cost, it’s also about having resiliency baked in. I believe in being efficient, but health systems must step back and consider how much they value resiliency.”

Finding the right balance between cost-savings opportunities and resiliency is an important step when rethinking your supply chain strategy. For more best practices from Sembrot and other health system leaders, read a full recap of the supply chain panels sponsored by Cardinal Health and their key takeaways.

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