How To Implement A Successful Healthcare Supply Chain Following Covid-19?

Supply chain management in healthcare is one of the most challenging processes – it has to function across many touch-points while keeping patient safety as its top priority.

Covid-19 has paved a new way of doing things that will not change anytime soon. Instead, this period has led to embracing new ways and welcoming changes.

We’ve gathered some stats on what’s changed in the supply chain of healthcare since the pandemic began. Take a look:

● 60% of hospitals say, their supply chains have become less efficient since March 2020, and they had to regionalize their supply chain. (McKinsey & Company)
● Surgical masks were being repurposed for use in healthcare settings, due to a shortage of N95 respirators.
● 84% of patients say they prefer organizations that have shifted to virtual care methods, such as telemedicine, owing to COVID-19. (Healthcare IT News)

These changes must be robust enough to handle fluctuations in demand, while, the supply chain needs to remain agile to deal with various clinical scenarios.

What is Driving The Need For Digital Supply Chains?

Healthcare providers face a growing number of patients and the rising costs associated with handling a supply chain crisis.

The primary reason for the breakdown is the traditional ways that healthcare providers view supply chain management in healthcare, such as relying on excess stock to meet demand.

To reduce costs and improve efficiency, hospitals must prioritize technology and practices by deciding where to spend their money. According to a report by Navigant Consulting – hospitals can save an average of $9.9 million per hospital with just improvements in supply chain management.

Healthcare Supply Chain: The Roadblocks That Threaten To Slow Down Its Progress

During COVID, the global demand for the supply of PPE kits, gloves, oxygen supplies, ventilator machines, and other essential goods hit the roof, but the poor availability of critical supplies put patients in danger.

Tied to the economic instability, the world healthcare system struggled to maintain its supply chains and prioritize patient safety. Along with COVID-19, there are several other challenges that the traditional healthcare supply chain management in healthcare face on a day-to-day basis.

Here are some of the primary reasons:

Overnight Shipping – Unlike other industries, the healthcare industry requires overnight deliveries because of emergencies. There are several costs associated with each order, which can contribute to significant revenue loss in the long run if they do not have stocks available for emergency cases.

Hidden Costs – Healthcare providers have an additional challenge with costs when purchasing products. Typically, healthcare providers just base the cost of the product and shipping on the product price tag while ignoring any additional expenses, like holding inventory.

Lack of Remote Access – Healthcare has been associated with in-person consultations for decades, leading to patients visiting a doctor for treatment. With the COVID outbreak and the resultant lockdowns, people were only able to leave their homes if they had a serious health crisis. Thus, calling for digital methods to avail medicines.

Shortage Of Drugs – Supply chain management in healthcare is unpredictable, and this leads to drug shortages. Providers cannot purchase other alternatives or amass a stockpile of products that might or might not run out, which leads to expensive inventory management costs.

Lack Of Integration – Fragmented supply chain management in healthcare can be detrimental to the healthcare organization’s bottom line. Healthcare systems are growing and sharing resources, and inconsistent supply chain management in healthcare needs to be addressed for all parties involved to source and manufacture according to the same specifications.

Unsatisfactory Workflow – Many processes within the healthcare supply chain are unnecessarily duplicated because participants within each system in the supply chain are disconnected. This leads to wasted time and resources as standard business practices can become inefficient without an integrated system in place.

Tracking material that’s flowing into a health system — from manufacture to shipping to delivery to storage to the point of use — is critical for supply chain professionals to know where supplies are and when they’re expected.”
Michael Palazzini Executive Vice President of Operations, TRIOSE

Absence Of Automation – Organizations can increase revenue, reduce costs, and improve quality with the increased use of data. However, without automation and fail-safe plans to protect against human error, enterprises risk high labor costs commensurate with the amount of manual data entry.

What is the one-stop solution to all these challenges? Let’s dive deep into the changes brought about by COVID-19 in the supply chain solutions in healthcare and the resultant emergence of advanced supply chain solutions.

How Emerging Technologies Can Help Supply Chain Management In Healthcare?

With technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, and 3D Printing, the healthcare supply chain is no longer complex. These emerging technologies provide advanced planning, synchronization, and collaborative platforms that improve quality and help reduce costs. As a result of their innovation, these new technologies in the supply chain management in healthcare have impacted efficiency and security while providing better care to patients.

The Digital Transformation Of Supply Chains

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital transformation in supply chains. COVID-19 has created a new urgency for businesses to be able to identify and respond to risks in real-time.

This includes a supply chain management system in healthcare that moves away from paper-based processes toward electronic collaboration systems and leverages new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for more efficient operations.

As companies are looking towards the future and assessing their growth strategies, top brains of supply chain management in healthcare will need to rethink their priorities to stay ahead of disruptions and meet customers’ expectations in an ever-changing world.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI has been widely implemented in the healthcare sector. It offers new ways to view data and predict future patient needs. It improves value-based, on-demand care delivery and offers better planning for services and products for patients.

As for the business sector, AI can be used to anticipate a supply chain of products needed to support patient care. Furthermore, it can help combat shortages and avoid overstocking products, resulting in higher profitability.

Internet of Things (IoT)

We are already aware of the incredible benefits of IoT that other sectors enjoy. The same goes for supply chain management in healthcare.

With the use of sensors and machine learning, we can quickly measure actual outcomes. These systems take small actions to correct themselves based on their data. With their ability to collect and share data in an automated fashion, IoT devices effectively take feedback and leverage it to improve healthcare operations


Blockchain is an immutable ledger that can track and trace healthcare supplies, preventing delays and fraud. Blockchain provides a secure and transparent way to track products and provide information about the product throughout its production chain, leaving no room for fraud. Hospitals and healthcare leaders will have detailed information about every step in the supply chain management in healthcare.

3D Printing

3D printing has reached a new peak of incredible efficiency by advancing in several areas such as minimized production chain time, cost reduction, lesser waste of raw materials, improved quality of product, and design according to customer preferences. Supply chain management in healthcare can enjoy its benefits in terms of mass production along with quality.

The Power Of Data And Analytics In Supply Chain Operations

Supply chain management in healthcare is a complex endeavor that requires a significant level of coordination. Healthcare organizations are already beginning to leverage existing patient data to predict future needs in staffing and admissions.

They are looking at ways to leverage supply chain data — such as actual demand versus inventory on hand and the number of days between ordering items and receiving them — to make better projections on what they will need and when they will need it. This will enable them to set up a system of supply chain management in healthcare that reduces inventory costs, which can be a significant expense, and increase efficiencies.

Reworked Logistic Channels

The pandemic has resulted in unprecedented disruption across healthcare supply chain management, leading to an urgent need to rework logistics channels.

Trade routes and trade partners that were once preferred destinations have changed, and new channels have emerged and become preferred choices. Moreover, there is now, a greater emphasis on building reliable domestic supplies than depending on imports from uncertain sources abroad. Many countries’ recent ban on exports during the COVID-19 crisis has only highlighted this fact.

Third-Party Partnerships and Outsourcing

The health industry has increased its dependency on third parties by outsourcing key functions such as logistics management, quality assurance testing, and manufacturing processes.

Outsourcing parts of the supply chain to third parties can allow companies to better leverage the expertise of others and reduce costs. For example, a company that wants to sell its products in India can outsource the logistics, distribution, and sales to an India-based distributor who already has a presence in the market. This allows them to move into the market faster without investing heavily in infrastructure and human capital.

Now, that we know the changes brought about by COVID-19 in supply chain management in healthcare, let us also look at a few parameters to consider in a robust supply chain solution for the healthcare industry.

Attributes of Supply Chain Management in Healthcare to Focus On.

Easy To Use – The automation system for supply chain management in healthcare should be easy to operate and use. It must be user-friendly.

Scalability – Your application must be able to handle a growing user base without impacting the user experience and its performance. It should remain stable while experiencing change and updations.

Adaptability – You must leverage systems that enable supply chain management in healthcare to accommodate changes by automatically applying new updates when they become available. With the right software management system, this process can be seamless and require minimal user effort.

Customer Centricity In Everything – While the supply chain management in healthcare industry has always been customer-centric, one of its primary goals has always been to drive costs down. However, the pandemic has made the customer more critical than ever before, which means that supply chains need to be tuned to deliver customer satisfaction. Supply chains have always operated on “stock and flow” principles, but COVID-19 demonstrated the value of “flow”; fluidity is key to coping with disruptions. This is not easy, but this can be achieved with proper planning and execution.

Integrating Supplier Networks – A huge part of keeping up with market changes is having visibility into what’s happening at every level — from manufacturing and distribution centers to customers and suppliers. And the only way to get that level of visibility is through integration.
The integration provides manufacturers with real-time access to a range of data points collected across their entire supply chain, which helps increase efficiency and reduce risk. With a whole network of suppliers connected by an integrated system, manufacturers can see everything from raw materials entering production to finished goods leaving warehouses. This gives them the ability to adapt on the fly as conditions change.

Reporting and analytics – The reporting and analytics feature of the digital system will allow for easy tracking of updates and versions and security issues. It must generate accurate and real-time reports based on patient details.

In A Nutshell

The healthcare sector relies on external providers for its goods. For this reason, there is a need for supply chain management in healthcare that can handle large volumes of products. This is where technology plays a role in shaping healthcare supply chain management.

Technology has been shown to minimize capacity, delivery, and inventory management problems. A smart platform that offers innovative and faster delivery of goods and services is the demand of the hour. Techwave is here to help you with your supply chain management woes. We assess your business needs to ensure you stay competitive in this tough economic climate. We have a global team that takes care of the needs of all brands, from small businesses to multinational corporations. We have dozens of success stories to showcase our past work.

You can experience the best with our digitally transformed solutions – The SupplyVu™ platform for your desired industry. Techwave is a trusted technology partner that has helped healthcare providers thrive in the face of disruptive forces. If you are ready to start your journey, let us help you now!