Healthcare supply chain 1 year into pandemic

The healthcare supply chain has moved very quickly in the last year to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, continuously adapting to deal with shortages. Mike Schiller, senior director of supply chain for the American Hospital Association's Association for Health Care Resource and Materials Management, discussed the state of the healthcare supply chain in a May 5 blog post

Six takeaways from his post: 

  1. Nitrile gloves, syringes, sharps containers and sterilization wrap are all pressure points in the healthcare supply chain.

  2. Multiple situations have created instability in the supply chain recently, including the global vaccination program, a fire at a resin production facility in Texas in January, and winter storms in the Gulf Coast of Texas in February. Texas is home to the world's largest petrochemical complex, where oil and gas are converted into plastics.

  3. Mr. Schiller said the U.S. has seen some success related to the increased production of personal protective equipment domestically and through the Defense Production Act. But increasing the number of domestic manufacturers will take some time.

  4. Traditional suppliers and sourcing channels are able to meet PPE needs, indicating that large health systems have sufficient PPE. But Mr. Schiller said he has been hearing of challenges in the nonacute and rural care communities when it comes to maintaining sufficient PPE levels.

  5. There doesn't seem to be as many bad actors in the healthcare supply chain attempting to take advantage of hospitals and health systems, Mr. Schiller said. This is likely because systems are using more traditional sourcing channels, but the field must remain vigilant to bad actors, he added.

  6. Mr. Schiller said he is encouraged by public-private activity to support the healthcare supply chain.

    "It's promising to see the number of conversations taking place, discussing the real changes that need to be made. It's been proven that we have very short memories — it's human nature — and once things settle down, we tend to slip back into our comfort zone, our swim lane. Right now, however, all indications are that everybody is still very focused on the post-COVID-19 efforts needed to build a more resilient healthcare supply chain," he said. 

Read the full blog post here


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