MedStar Health and Syft aren't waiting for another national crisis to fix the supply chain — 3 things to know

Supply chain risks pertaining to the acquisition and management of supplies and devices was the second-highest concern among 138 hospital leaders surveyed by the consulting firm Sage Growth Partners in April.

"Supply chain has been top-of-mind for healthcare leaders for quite some time," said Dan D'Orazio, CEO of Sage Growth Partners, during a June 30 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review which featured MedStar Health and was sponsored by the supply chain technology company Syft. Mr. D'Orazio added that the COVID-19 crisis has strained the national healthcare supply chain. This strain has intensified hospital leader’s focus on this critical area of operations. In response to current circumstances, Syft released a supply chain optimization playbook for hospitals and health systems to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future disruptions.

Mr. D'Orazio moderated a panel of three industry experts for a conversation about how health system leaders can respond to supply chain challenges created by COVID-19 and protect their organizations from future crises. The panelists were:

  • Todd Plesko, MBA, CEO of Syft
  • Lee Smith, RNFA, BSN, MBA, director of clinical informatics with Syft
  • Jim Churchman, MBA, vice president of system supply chain with Columbia, Md.-based MedStar Health

Here are three takeaways from the discussion:

  • COVID-19 has exacerbated existing supply chain challenges, especially when it comes to the use of predictive technology. Many industry leaders believe the healthcare supply chain has long lagged other industries when it comes to the use of sophisticated technologies. This is partly due to resource limitations and the many competing priorities leaders have to navigate that are unique to healthcare.

"Investments in supply chain have been pushed to the back burner," Ms. Smith said. "With this pandemic, [healthcare leaders] have realized that in order to have a supply chain that can address patient needs and protect patients, they must have a process in place that can assess demand in the future, not just demand right now."

  • Amid the pandemic, MedStar Health has had to work outside of traditional supply channels to achieve adequate supply levels. This effort has been complicated by the need to also adhere to emerging clinical guidelines. To meet this challenge, the health system has leveraged real-time analytics to standardize supply procurement in a way that meets patient needs but remains economically sustainable.

"We're bringing technological tools to the forefront and using real-time analytics to support our physicians and clinical teams," Mr. Churchman said. " … This has helped strengthen our clinical partnerships by making sure [clinicians] have what they need when they're at the patient's bedside."

  • Plesko said the most successful health system partners not only address immediate supply concerns, but also have a vision for how they'd like their organization's supply chain to evolve over time. These health systems will most likely fare the best in future crises.

"Our most successful customers are those that have a guiding vision of what they want to achieve, maybe not right now or not through the deliverable process, but long-term," Mr. Plesko said.

He added that as COVID-19 has moved supply chain optimization up the priority list at hospitals, supply chain leaders can and should begin to make necessary changes.

"What I see is a tremendous opportunity to step into the spotlight a bit and to command more strategic attention,” he said. "… Take advantage of the opportunity to improve."

To view a recording of the webinar, click here.

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