IDN Summit hybrid event presents supply chain 2020 lessons learned and future ‘long’ focus

April 14, 2021

In what is probably the first in-person healthcare event in 2021, the 2021 Spring IDN Summit happened this week at the Omni ChampionsGate Resort near Orlando. The experience was excellent, with healthcare professionals from integrated delivery networks (IDNs) and suppliers reunited and enjoying a semi-normal experience with safety protocols that included social distancing, masks, health safety checks and diligent surface cleaning. 

Educational sessions were conducted as a hybrid model with both in-person and virtual presenters and socially spaced attendees. All sessions were recorded for part two of the Summit event that will allow virtual attendees to participate. Many discussions focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic has required a higher level of transparency among stakeholders on needs versus stockpiling and collaboration. Common discussion topics included: 

  • What are strategies for increased transparency and communication for future supply chain success?  
  • How will IDNs scrutinize the resiliency of a supplier’s supply chain in making contracting decisions moving forward?  
  • What can suppliers do to address both clinician safety and satisfaction and well-being while adversely improving patient safety and outcomes?  

A report, prepared for those attending the 2021 Spring IDN Summit, looks at the last year and then into healthcare supply chain changes and a glimpse into the industry moving forward. It detailed how the IDN supply chain has changed, and will continue to change, as a result of COVID-19.   

A Thought Leadership Panel, with virtual participants Ed Jones, President and CEO, of HealthTrust; Michael Alkire, President and Incoming CEO, Premier, Inc.; and Byron Jobe, President and CEO, Vizient, Inc. was moderated by Brent Petty, Chief Relationships Officer for Bluegrass Business Media – on stage in person.  

The group purchasing organization (GPO) discussion focused on what the healthcare supply chain has learned from the pandemic over the last year and the new directions that GPOs are now moving. Those directions include creating sourcing opportunities in the US and encouraging the US government to support incentives for personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing on-shore in the US, as well as pharmaceutical sourcing. All three of the GPO leaders mentioned the new partnerships they had developed with manufacturers in their efforts to supply healthcare facilities with the supplies they needed.  

All agreed that the just-in-time (JIT) healthcare supply chain model will need to be modified with healthcare systems evaluating how to maintain supply levels at their negotiated prices instead of the price gouging that happened over the last year when systems were desperate for PPE, drugs, respirators and other supplies. That challenge was compounded by organizations competing with their peers as well as local, state and federal governments for the same supplies.   

All agreed, that the last year was a perfect storm of limited production capacity, Chinese factories and ports temporarily shut down because of the virus, and raw ingredients and products as numerous countries restricted export of strategic goods. The ongoing message is the healthcare supply chain needs to pay attention on the ‘long’ supply chain that includes raw supplies, where manufacturers are located, distributor agreements and increased attention to the tracking and visibility of supplies.