December 14, 2023

Supply chain leaders discuss improving access, reducing costs

Editor's Note

Supply chain professionals can contribute to a more affordable, equitable health care system by spending more with suppliers in economically disadvantaged areas; expanding distribution into in-home care; and leveraging data and technology.

According to a November 28 report in Healthcare Purchasing News, these were among the conclusions of this year’s Bellwether League Foundation Leadership Forum. Hosted October 2 at Marquette University, the panel discussion invited supply chain managers and distributor executives to discuss the expanding role of the healthcare supply chain and how their organizations are responding to evolving challenges.

Although each panelist brought a different perspective and experience, they were relatively aligned on the following points:

  • For years, health system supply chain leaders have sought to increase their spend with suppliers owned and operated by traditionally underrepresented groups, such as women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities or identifying as LGBTQ. More recently, efforts have shifted to also include local suppliers who employ individuals from disadvantaged communities. Panelists spoke about the importance of having a livable wage on positive health outcomes. 
  • Speakers also emphasized the importance of close collaboration among healthcare providers, such as a health system serving patients on the westside of Chicago creating a shared laundry business that employed local community members. 
  • As increasing numbers of patients receive care outside traditional settings, expanding distribution into in-home care is becoming more important. For instance, Trinity health provides home delivery of not only medical products, but also supportive technology such as tablets and Bluetooth-enabled scales and blood pressure monitors.

All panelists highlighted the importance of data and AI in better managing collaborations and logistics throughout the supply chain.

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