Saluting Supply Chain

June 24, 2021

National Healthcare Supply Chain Week may be three months away (typically the first week in October every year), but that shouldn’t be a license to limit your visible appreciation for an essential organizational artery merely to seven of 365 days.

Spouses celebrate their anniversaries on a single day, as do moms (in May) and dads (in June), but that doesn’t mean we accuse, blame, dismiss, ignore and ridicule them the rest of the time.

A few years back a prominent supply chain executive once remarked that just because no one complains doesn’t ensure everything’s going well. Sage words.

Against the backdrop of the pandemic crisis that has bedeviled and gripped us for the last 17 months, we need to fete the supply chain executives, leaders and professionals who have performed and served as optimally as possible. To some, the time spanning the years 2020 and 2021 sparked a realization that the supply chain is broken. I counter that it’s been battered, beaten and bruised – and perhaps bent a bit – but we’re still moving forward.

Taking a cue from a famous game involving a famous actor here are Seven Degrees of Supply Chain Success:

1. You are the reliable and trusted single point of contact for direction, guidance, questions, requests, strategies and tactics about the acquisition and analysis of data, products and services.

2. You ensure the contracted product is available without hesitation or you have a backup plan that may mean a slight delay in accessibility of that product and/or you provide a clinician-driven reasonable and relevant alternative for a limited time.

3. When department heads, doctors and nurses experience a problem with budgets, costs and expenses they know without hesitation they can come to you, who will reliably advise, consult and facilitate.

4. In all contracting and negotiating activities, both the clinical customer and the supplier know you have each other’s best interests in mind without pitting one against the other’s expense. This enables the clinicians to concentrate completely on patient care and the suppliers to have your back when product channels buckle and waver.

5. In assessing, evaluating, researching and strategically sourcing product(s), clinical customers know that you have patient outcomes and well-being in mind at all times.

6. You serve as the source of truth for accurate and reliable data about product and service development, evaluation, contracting, purchasing, logistics, usage and disposal.

7. You serve as the source of business continuity throughout the organization in terms of leading and managing process and product standardization; facilitating the understanding of clinical, financial and operational demand; and minimizing risk during crises.

As promised in my April column, I list below the four finalists for HPN’s 2021 Supply Chain Department of the Year recognition. We feel it’s important that these teams are recognized and honored for their contributions. Next month, one of these four teams will earn this year’s crown:

• Banner Health, Phoenix

• CentraCare Health, St. Cloud, MN

• South Broward/Memorial Health, Hollywood, FL

• Stanford (CA) Medicine

This month, however, we hope these four teams consider it a privilege to be nominated and reach the finalist stage. We respect and salute their achievements and invite you to do the same for them and for all supply chain teams.