Supply and Demand in Healthcare and How to Create a Better Supply Chain Strategy

The COVID-19 pandemic rocked the healthcare industry and exposed long-standing vulnerabilities that have plagued supply and demand in healthcare—one of them being the fragile nature of the medical device supply chain has been left unaddressed for years. In a 2015 survey, only a third of the hospitals surveyed felt their supply chain management was “very effective.” In 2021, Gartner found the “total supply chain cost to serve for a health system averages 37.3% of the total cost of patient care.” 

Let’s take a closer look at how supply and demand affect healthcare and how hospitals can create a more efficient supply chain strategy. 

How Does Supply and Demand Affect Healthcare? 

Like most industries, supply and demand in healthcare suffered significantly during the pandemic. Many providers are still struggling to recover, even as they work to improve vulnerabilities that existed before COVID-19.

Failing to improve the medical device supply chain brings many downsides, including:

  • Low transparency and patient trust
  • Unimproved patient safety, care, and outcome
  • Higher waste and unnecessary spending
  • Poor preparedness for future disasters

Fortunately, several modern best practices can be used right now to improve hospital supply chain strategic plans. 

3 Best Practices for Combating Medical Device Supply Chain Difficulties 

Unfortunately, vulnerabilities in supply and demand in healthcare often come to light when it’s too late. We saw that play out amidst the pandemic, where fragile supply chains were stretched thin and many providers did not have enough medical supplies to properly treat patients, protect staff, and reduce the impact of COVID-19.

Here are three best practices you should implement to combat persistent problems and help close the gaps in your medical device supply chain. 

1. Utilize Communication Enhancing Technology throughout the Supply Chain

Communication is a crucial part of every hospital supply chain strategic plan. Everyone throughout a hospital’s supply chain should be on the same page and understand their responsibilities.

Fortunately, modern communication tools provide hospitals with a more efficient way to communicate with staff. Integrating these tools allows hospitals to forgo face-to-face meetings when necessary and improve training among providers and staff. 

Utilizing medical device supply chain automation tools that allow access to part locations, tracking, and efficient ordering also reduce costs for providers. 

2. Make Customer Transparency and Communication a Priority 

Customer communication is vital for many reasons. Being transparent with patients and promptly notifying them about crucial medical supply shortages or recalls can save lives and improve patient outcomes.

Additionally, being proactive about communication facilitates trust with patients. We live in an age where information travels fast, and patients can get real-time information on their own. If they hear about recalls or shortages from an outside source, you’re no longer in control of communication and customer trust can suffer.

Your hospital supply chain strategic plan should include improving customer communication and hospital visibility on social media platforms to raise patient satisfaction and safety.

3. Create a More Efficient Recall Management Strategy 

One of the most substantial factors impacting supply and demand in healthcare is how the healthcare industry handles recalls. Thousands of recalls are issued yearly, but many suppliers are still using outdated methods for recall communication, including mailed notices that could take weeks to arrive. These strategies further hamper efficiency because duplicate and inapplicable notifications can lead to recall fatigue, putting patient safety at risk. When recalls are not addressed promptly, patients can face serious illness, injuries, and death. 

Fortunately, suppliers can choose to quickly improve their communication with providers by utilizing recall communication software. Such powerful recall management tools provide hospitals with real-time recall notifications while avoiding duplicate notices and those that don’t apply to their practice. 

Improving Persistent Issues with Supply and Demand in Healthcare

Now more than ever, hospitals must work toward improving their medical device supply chains to drive down costs, facilitate trust among patients, and improve patient health and safety. One of the easiest remedies to significantly enhance communication between medical providers and suppliers is embracing a better recall management strategy.

Together, we can combat growing problems within the medical device supply chain to the benefit of everyone. 

Author: Brandon Park