Creating Visibility at Scale

May 28, 2024

One of the key learnings from the pandemic was the need for greater collaboration and visibility across the healthcare supply chain. Supplier and provider organizations that had once been reluctant to share information about their stock levels and proprietary substitution logic in the event of backorders are now far more willing to be transparent in an attempt to avoid the missteps experienced during the pandemic. For example, in the wake of COVID-19, the lack of visibility to the stock on hand and the burn rate at different providers across the country resulted in too much product being delivered to some organizations and not enough to others. This willingness to be more transparent is an important step toward making collaborative planning, forecasting, and replenishment (CPFR) a reality in healthcare. In other words, now that we have the will, innovative organizations across the healthcare supply chain can work together to find a way.

Past attempts by single provider organizations to share demand data with suppliers have not led to demonstrable change because suppliers need information from a significant portion of their customer base to drive changes in production and distribution. Concordance Healthcare Solutions aims to meet that challenge through the development of Surgence, a cloud-based digital platform that delivers data streams to increase supply chain visibility. The model, used by supply chains in other industries, is designed to translate relatable information about objects, organizational relationships, disparate data systems, events, and other factors to support more informed and predictive decisions.

Cody Fisher, Executive Vice President, Strategic Advisor, for Concordance has big plans for Surgence, which was launched in 2023 and is open to participation by all providers, manufacturers, and distributors. He explains that each organization can utilize the platform internally and externally with multiple supply chain trading partners. With Surgence, organizations can aggregate and digitize data and workflows across disparate sources and systems in parallel with other trading partners connected to the same platform.

The platform goes beyond simply understanding the ability of a single supplier to meet a specific provider’s demand. Rather, the goal is to support workflows, alerts. and decision making for multiple trading partners using a single source of truth. For example, one of Surgence’s applications provides suppliers with visibility into the substitution logic used by their customers. In this way, they can better anticipate when a shortage in one product could lead to unprecedented demand and stockouts for another product, not only in aggregate, but also as it impacts the service model for specific customers. This allows trading partners to not only understand critical constraints but also to make decisions in unison, creating a much more agile supply chain.

Some early adopter providers are already getting value from Surgence through greater visibility into their own inventory, order management processes, and product utilization. One of those is RUSH University System for Health, which is using the Surgence warehouse inventory management tool to achieve real-time visibility into products it has on hand, the stock locations, and consumption rates.

Since Concordance and RUSH are both connected to Surgence, the two trading partners have harmonized their data into applications that provide insights and alerts on both anticipated demand and stock on hand. Those alerts signal when demand is expected to exceed supply, and decision makers are given necessary information through workflows to enable them to respond faster to support patient care needs. Both organizations have already achieved benefits in the form of stock-out reductions and time saved through enhanced communications.

According to Fisher, Surgence is founded on a collaborative, not a competitive, vision and is designed to deliver expanding benefits at scale as the number of healthcare supply chain participants grows. 

About the Author

Karen Conway | CEO, Value Works

Karen Conway applies her knowledge of supply chain operations and systems thinking to align data and processes to improve health outcomes and the performance of organizations upon which an effective healthcare system depends.  After retiring in 2024 from GHX, where she served as Vice President of Healthcare Value, Conway established ValueWorks to advance the role of supply chain to achieve a value-based healthcare system that optimizes the cost and quality of care, while improving both equity and sustainability in care delivery. Conway is former national chair of AHRMM, the supply chain association for the American Hospital Association, and an honorary member of the Health Care Supplies Association in the UK.