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Over the past few decades, a perfect storm has been brewing in healthcare. As M&A activity continues, consolidated healthcare systems are serving larger communities, managing bigger spends, and coordinating more complex business operations. It’s more essential than ever to render efficient health services while maintaining—or improving—patient outcomes.

 

One part of this ongoing complexity is exponential growth in the number of SKUs hospitals must manage. In fact, the number of individual supply items has mushroomed from a few thousand to upwards of 60,000—and that number grows every day.
 
The problem is that physical hospital space was never set up to handle this volume of product. In addition, clinicians do not typically receive training or education in supply chain best practice, and the negative ramifications on clinician efficiency, patient care, and cost control are becoming increasingly evident.


Determine your organizations’ readiness for supply chain transformation with the IDN Supply Chain Readiness tool.


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It’s an interesting time in the healthcare industry, and for the supply chain specifically. Each of the following market factors is thrusting the supply chain to center stage and calling on all of us to up our game in the face of more complex operations. These factors include:

 

  • The advancement of new technology, from drones and robots to artificial intelligence and distributed ledgers
  • Increasing margin pressure
  • New and changing traceability regulations
  • Numerous mergers and acquisitions


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“No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.”

 

This quote is attributed to Harry J. Gray, an iconic business manager and philanthropist who, through acquisition, assembled one of America’s largest manufacturing corporations. During his career, he received numerous recognitions and honors and was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame. My guess is that Mr. Gray was an expert at risk assessment and containment.

 

Wikipedia defines risk as a consequence of action taken in spite of uncertainty. Given that uncertainty is a fact of life in business, risk management is not only unavoidable but essential. In the context of inventory management, the most common risk strategy against stock-outs is to purchase extra inventory as safety stock.


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When supply chain professionals plan for future demand, their thoughts gravitate to meeting customer service levels while minimizing the amount of capital tied up in inventory.  Demand planning is about having the right product in the right place at the right time … right? Four occurrences of the same word would cause my old English teacher to shudder at this excessive use of a word in a single sentence. However, let us return to the important business of meeting consumer demand without incurring the cost of excess inventory.


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