Supply chain tip of the day: How to maintain the medical supply chain amid natural disasters

"Every day, hospitals across the country receive shipments of critical medications and pharmaceutical products they need to treat patients," says Erin Horvath, senior vice president of distribution services at AmerisourceBergen.

However, natural disasters can quickly disrupt the supply chain, as demonstrated by the hurricanes that hit the U.S. earlier this year. Flooded roads and power outages add logistical and operational barriers to an already complex process — all at a time when there's a heightened demand for patient care, according to Ms. Horvath.

She shared the following tip with Becker's Hospital Review.

"Under these circumstances, it is essential for hospitals to collaborate with key partners, such as distributors and local government organizations, to ensure they are equipped to treat patients both during and after a major weather event. For example, distributors can provide advanced ordering options and recommendations for when and how much product to order in advance of a storm.

"When a natural disaster hits, ongoing communication among stakeholders is critical to determine pressing needs. Distributors can leverage their network of distribution centers and couriers to identify alternative routes and delivery methods, such as airlifting supplies or gaining access to vehicles that can navigate high-standing waters.

"Power outages and the loss of refrigeration can ruin the integrity and efficacy of some pharmaceutical products, including many specialty products used to treat patients with chronic or existing life-threatening conditions. With that in mind, it is vital to identify a distribution partner with access to a refrigerated trailer that can store temperature-sensitive products in the event a distribution center loses power for an extended amount of time."

If you would like to share a tip, please email Mackenzie Bean at

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