The evolving delivery of care: 5 implications for health system supply chains

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the delivery of healthcare was evolving.

As we begin to see an acceleration of trends such as virtual health visits and the shift to non-acute or ambulatory settings, it is important to understand the specific impacts on the health care supply chain. In a recent survey with Becker’s healthcare, more than 100 health system c-suite and supply chain leaders shares insights into the shifting sites of care and what it means for their organizations. Survey respondents came from a variety of organization types, including both hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs). There was also good representation of organization size ranging from over 500 beds to fewer than 100 beds. Here are 5 key implications from the survey results:

  1. Expect more virtual care. Care will continue to shift out of the hospital to the non-acute setting, specifically the virtual setting. Over the last 12 months specifically, the shift of patient care from the hospital to other settings accelerated, and this is a trend that healthcare executives expect to continue. Other sites of care that saw an increase over the past year include, in-home care and urgent care facilities. 
  2. Recognize COVID-19's impact on these trends. Although COVID-19 accelerated this shift in care, changes were already underway pre-pandemic. Among survey participants, 85 percent shared this sentiment. The COVID-19 pandemic simply accelerating this shift to non-acute care, specifically virtual visits, as providers, patients and payers all recognized these settings as safe, cost-effective and convenient options. 
  3. Understand the shift in care impacts supply chains.  As patient care continues to move to sites beyond hospitals, management of the supply chain can drive success or invite additional challenges. When asked about the preparation of their health system’s supply chain for these changes in care delivery, most supply chain leaders felt prepared to some extent. However, it is important for leaders to recognize that some areas of the supply chain will be impacted more than others. For example, most survey participants agreed that changes will most prominently impact inventory management, then logistics, then product assortment. 
  4. Acknowledge who is accountable. Most health system’s hold supply chain leaders accountable for increasing the delivery of patient care in non-hospital settings. In fact, 90 percent of respondents shared this sentiment. This insight shows us the continued importance of supply chains in providing patient care. 
  5. Partner differently. Changes are prompting providers to work differently with new supply chain partners. In fact, almost 86 percent of supply chain leaders said that COVID-19 has altered their thinking around supply chain partnerships and 72 percent of c-suite leaders said that the shifts in patient care delivery have prompted them to work with new vendors or suppliers. Health systems can benefit by working with a strategic partner who understands the changes taking place and has a depth of knowledge, experience, and capabilities to help health systems transform their supply chain.

As care continues to evolve inside and outside of the hospital, providers, manufacturers and distributors must continue to work together to ensure that patient care is not adversely impacted. Lean on your relationships with these partners for insights and solutions as you navigate change. For more information on this survey and other insights on integrating your health system, click here.   

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