As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country, governments and the private sector tore through their stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other resources. Several supply chain issues quickly emerged, including lack of visibility into sources of supply, a fragmented approach to ordering and fulfillment, and an overreliance on offshore manufacturing.
While we have made progress in managing aspects of the pandemic, disruptions to the supply chain, including raw materials, manufacturing, shipping, distribution and “last mile” delivery remain. in a system that is not designed for the demands of a pandemic.
With a few targeted strategies, it is possible to reverse these disturbances. For its part, Premier, a health care improvement company uniting 4,400 American hospitals and health systems and partner of the CHAMPS Purchasing group based in northeast Ohio, is concerned with the risk management of the supply chain for years, and we have developed forward-thinking capabilities. to help protect against interference.
To strengthen the supply chain, Premier and CHAMPS are calling for the implementation of key national priorities to meet the growing demand for essential medical supplies and medicines. We need to take a broader approach to creating an end-to-end supply chain that is transparent, diverse and reliable. Beyond quantities, we must also ensure that the United States has established contractual relationships that include contingency plans to increase production as soon as future needs are identified.
Specifically, we need to address the following points.
- The need for domestic manufacturing: The pandemic has underscored the need for better local access to essential medical supplies, which is why we are advocating for a short-term tax incentive of 30% to support domestic manufacturing. We also believe that the private sector can play a role in promoting change related to the manufacturing of essential goods.
In March 2020, Premier launched a unionized model to ensure a robust and resilient supply chain for essential medical products. The program provides a vehicle through which Premier and its members pool capital to invest in domestic manufacturers who can supply products in short supply, providing initial cash needed to expand production capacity and modernize the plant, as well as long-term purchasing commitments to incentivize innovation. This ensures that providers have a cost-effective national alternative for their patient care needs. Here in Northeast Ohio, CHAMPS Group Purchasing has partnered with JobsOhio to implement agreements with suppliers of PPE and related products as part of our commitment to supporting local national suppliers, diversified and small businesses to advance the region’s economy.
- The need for an innovative global sourcing strategy: Past situations such as H1N1, Ebola, and Hurricane Maria have highlighted the vulnerabilities associated with over-reliance on a single country for medical supplies and medicines. In response, several organizations (including ours) have diversified PPE production, expanding operations to multiple countries and regions to mitigate ongoing risks of product shortages. As part of this, we must also ensure that suppliers have a say in determining what should be included in the national strategic stock of equipment.
- Tech-enabling supply chain: Until recently, hospitals were alone in translating local outbreaks of COVID-19 into immediately meaningful information regarding capacity and supplies. Now, providers are using technology to be better informed about how quickly cases are spreading and what supplies they need at any given time. This new technology takes advantage of real-time monitoring capabilities, providing early warnings, predicting surges and helping organizations plan coordinated responses where they are needed most.
Additionally, the federal government needs technology that will provide visibility into what supplies are in inventory, distribution, and hospital inventories during national emergencies. This will allow allocation to places in need and reduce hoarding and the illicit market, issues that have challenged America during the first nine months of the pandemic.
When healthcare providers can predict COVID-19-related hospitalizations and have confidence in the sufficiency of supplies of essential commodities, this creates a positive ripple effect – relieving pressure on supply chains, ensuring more responsive care in communities and helping to keep businesses and schools open and running.
Even as COVID-19 has exposed supply chain flaws and transformed the healthcare landscape, together we continue to show and improve to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic and drive healthcare innovation. health for the future.
We must come together to ensure access to the supplies, data, analysis and intelligence needed to survive and thrive in a challenging environment.
Lane is President and CEO of the Center for Health Affairs and CHAMPS Healthcare. Alkire is President and CEO of Premier Inc.