In support of the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management’s (AHRMM) annual National Health Care Supply Chain Week, October 3-9, 2021, Global Healthcare Exchange has outlined five best practices to help build more agile, resilient supply chains.
GHX highlighted five of its best practices for strengthening the healthcare supply chain:
1. Shore up gaps in automation
As the industry works to build more resilient supply chains, business process automation will accelerate. In fact, Gartner estimates the COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked digital adoption by five years. While the healthcare industry has made great progress in automating supply chain processes, COVID-19 illustrated that large gaps in procure-to-pay automation remain. Moving forward, the healthcare industry must bring even greater levels of automation to the procure-to-pay cycle, according to a press release from GHX. One area of focus for both providers and suppliers will be to speed the adoption of electronic invoicing and payments. This will reduce costs associated with manual processes and enable more fluid decision-making around cash management.
2. Develop a modern data strategy to increase visibility, transparency
The healthcare industry has many stakeholders who create and depend on data. Historically, healthcare data has resided in silos with poor cross-system communications, limiting collaboration, visibility and transparency. The healthcare supply chain experienced the crippling effects of this lack of visibility during the early days of the pandemic. A recent survey by Erst & Young found that improved supply chain visibility will be the number one business priority during the next three years. To improve, healthcare must fix its data issues. The first step will be to establish a modern data strategy that integrates and normalizes data across multiple stakeholders and ensures it is clean, accurate and can flow easily across systems.
3. Succeed with cloud transformation
Gartner forecasts the enterprise resource planning (ERP) market will reach $44 billion by 2022, with much of that growth driven by the adoption of cloud-based systems. In healthcare, moving to a cloud-based ERP system enables real-time integration with other cloud-based systems, such as electronic health records and accounts payable. By linking the supply chain with financial and clinical systems, organizations can better assess how supply choices influence total cost of care, revenue and reimbursement, safety, quality and the patient experience. However, cloud-based ERP systems are only as valuable as the data that power them. In developing a cloud ERP strategy, healthcare organizations must find a technology partner with healthcare and supply chain expertise to ensure that the supply chain data powering the ERP system will provide the insight necessary to improve patient outcomes and lower the cost of care.
4. Improve healthcare cost and quality through clinically integrated supply chains
As healthcare looks to rebound from the financial impact of the pandemic, there’s a renewed urgency to turn data into the critical asset it’s meant to be – one that will drive greater financial, operational and clinical performance. Healthcare providers have invested in various technologies and systems, including EHRs, ERPs and supply chain automation, to modernize infrastructures and business processes. But these systems must be integrated with clinical systems to facilitate cross-functional collaboration and drive better-informed decision making across the care continuum. For example, supply chain teams will be empowered to make purchasing decisions on factors such as clinical evidence and more accurately track the financial and clinical outcomes of those decisions.
5. Build proactive, predictive supply chains
The pandemic brought to light the reactive nature of today’s healthcare supply chains. The healthcare industry is awash in data with very little ability to draw necessary insights to make informed, agile decisions. Forward-looking organizations must accelerate adoption of predictive analytics to gain essential insights for planning and strategic decision-making – especially in times of crisis. Predictive analytics is poised to be a game-changer in the healthcare supply chain, from better anticipating and matching supply and demand to creating more personalized care pathways.
For healthcare to become more resilient, providers and suppliers must continue to share knowledge freely and often, according to GHX.