Tips for supply chain leaders: Be a problem-solver

Scott Nelson, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain at Cardinal Health - Print  | 

While innovative strategies, actionable plans, and informed decision-making are all critical components for an effective supply chain, the strongest leaders must also know how to react in the face of adversity.

Sometimes even the best designed plans run into roadblocks, and it requires resilient leaders to step up and embrace these challenges.

In healthcare especially, the growing focus on streamlining value creation across the continuum of care makes it essential for supply chain leaders to navigate competing and sometimes conflicting initiatives and to choose the best course of action. Thus, hospitals and health systems are in need of supply chain leaders who don’t shy away from problems.1 They need to solve problems by identifying and fixing the root causes. It is critical to understand what is at the core of a problem versus focusing on symptoms. For example, when it comes to nurses and physicians who want more time with patients – supply chain leaders must work to understand and eliminate their pain points; this allows for more time spent on patient care and ultimately facilitates higher quality of care at a lower cost.

In the hospital supply chain, the problem-solving process starts with data. Hospitals must leverage the supply chain as a gold mine for information to reduce costs, identify waste, and streamline efficiencies throughout the entire health system network. By collecting data that spans across the entire network, supply chain leaders can gain visibility into the root cause of a problem and work upward from there. They can use data-driven actions to support initiatives that target these issues and ultimately reduce the total cost of care. Product recalls and expirations are one great example of a costly issue that could be eliminated through real-time product data and cloud-based analytics. Instead of searching aimlessly for a defective item, these tools provide valuable information such as order history, utilization, and expiry alerts, which make it easier to locate the products quickly and ensure that they are handled properly. Automated technology solutions that address problems throughout the organization can help supply chain leaders eliminate issues before they arise, and be prepared to solve them if they do. With a robust supply chain in place, leaders can place a larger focus on cost reduction and achieving the best outcomes, as well as adapting manufacturing and buying processes to deliver real value.2

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1Mike Duffy. LinkedIn. (1/3/17) “What it means to be a leader...from my point of view”
2GHX (2/4/2015) “Eight Predictions on the Future Healthcare Supply Chain”

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