Supply chain tip of the week: 9 questions to test your inventory management IQ

In today's competitive healthcare environment where multiple teams and departments are competing for scarce resources — like time, executive attention and budget dollars — your ability as a supply chain leader to set goals and clearly articulate a vision of the future is critical to decreasing costs and improving care quality, according to Steve Thompson, director of patient driven supply network at Cardinal Health.

Mr. Thompson shared the following tip with Becker's Hospital Review.

"The turn of a new year is a great time for hospital leaders to do just this. Surprisingly, only 36 percent of supply chain executives said they had adequate supply chain plans, strategies and contingency plans in 2015, according to the seventh annual UPS Pain in the Chain healthcare logistics survey. For those who do set goals, research suggests about two-thirds of healthcare logistics executives believe their supply chain strategies are not equal to the dynamic demands of the healthcare industry.

It can be challenging to prioritize the many — and sometimes competing — supply chain initiatives within a health system. And for large integrated delivery networks, a one-size-fits-all plan is often elusive given the complexity of the value chain. So what's the answer?

The first step toward developing an effective supply chain strategy begins, foundationally, with an internal assessment. Consider these questions as you reflect on the current state of your supply chain and evaluate you inventory management IQ:

  1. Does your hospital have the right amount of inventory on hand — never over or understocked?
  2. Does your system accurately capture all changes on the patient record?
  3. Do you ever worry about finding recalled or expired products on shelf?
  4. Does your system track medical devices through to the point of use?
  5. Does your hospital accurately anticipate product demand based on trends?
  6. Does your system leverage data and analytics to improve inventory management practices?
  7. Can your facility staff easily and quickly do routine inventory maintenance tasks?
  8. Does your hospital use paper-and-pencil methods for documentation or purchasing?
  9. Can your clinical staff easily and quickly find the proper supplies?  

Answers to questions like these can help you understand your current supply chain capabilities and identify growth areas for 2017 — and beyond. With this knowledge, you will be empowered to make strategic supply chain decisions and impact healthcare costs and care for the better."

If you would like to submit a supply chain tip of the week, please contact Mackenzie Bean at

More articles on supply chain:

GHX names 50 best healthcare supply chains in North America
10 statistics on drug, device recalls in Q4
Why UPS drivers don't turn left

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