Healthcare Supply Chain Transparency Initiative Targets Medical Product Shortageshti

In response to recurring shortages of medications and other types of medical products, healthcare manufacturers and hospital networks have joined forces with Resilinc to create the Healthcare Transparency Initiative (HTI). Resilinc’s growing network of partners for the HTI includes BD Healthcare Solutions, Trinity Health, University of Vermont Health Network and others.

“Whether you are a provider, manufacturer, distributor or group purchasing organization, your complex supply chains frequently encounter shortages, recalls, backorders and even crises,” said Bindiya Vakil, CEO of Resilinc. “This unique collaboration will focus on improving supply chain transparency to mitigate both chronic and acute shortages of medical products and to enable healthcare providers to create more cost-efficient and resilient supply chains.”

Supply chain issues at the heart of many shortages

Medical product shortages are highly complex and challenging to solve, and supply chain issues are by no means the only cause. Problems with ordering, distribution, manufacturing quality and marketplace factors all contribute to shortages.

But supply chain issues are at the heart of many critical shortages. During natural disasters, the vulnerability of medical product supply chains becomes most obvious—and the consequences are often most severe. When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, not only were hundreds killed, but much of the island’s pharmaceutical industry—source of about 8% of medical products used by Americans—was disabled.

After Maria, many hospitals reported shortages of IV saline that impacted patient care and caused costly delays for healthcare providers. The negative impacts were accentuated by the arrival of an unusually severe flu season, leading to greater demand for large-volume saline IV bags to hydrate flu patients.

Alternate sourcing more challenging than in many industries

Coping with these kinds of emergencies is particularly challenging in healthcare since suppliers of many types of products and materials must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Unlike supply chains in many industries, the life sciences and pharmaceutical supply chains are highly regulated to ensure patient safety,” said Graeme Dykes, Managing Director of the HTI. “This makes alternate sourcing more challenging and underscores the vital importance of visibility into all tiers of supply chains.”

The shortages and threats of shortages that occurred after Hurricane Maria reflect longer-term challenges. While shortages of some medical products—especially oncology products—have lessened in recent years, shortages of antibiotics, amino acids and total parenteral nutrition (TPN) products continue, according to a report by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Shortages of saline and other widely used products are becoming “more troubling,” concluded the ASHP.

Providers taking supply chain resiliency more seriously

In light of these growing concerns, supply chain resiliency is becoming a greater priority for responsible healthcare providers. “Our accountability to the patients and communities that we serve demands that we make mindful decisions about business continuity risk as we engage suppliers,” said Ed Hisscock, SVP, Supply Chain Management, Trinity Health. “HTI is a vehicle to assess and monitor that risk.”

HTI will immediately drive lower costs by creating a shared ecosystem and improving visibility and transparency across the healthcare value chain, leveraging AI and data science.  The initiative is powered by Resilinc’s trusted platform and healthcare supply chain data, which offers unique transparency and insights for the industry today.

Membership in the Healthcare Transparency Initiative is available in four tiers. Tier Zero provides industry monitoring, webinars, web forums and other opportunities for medical product supply chain professionals to engage with their peers and learn best practices; Tier I adds data and  analytical tools to monitor key suppliers; Tier II adds enhanced supplier score-carding, risk management and business continuity planning tools; and Tier III+ adds the capability to map individual products, parts and materials through all tiers of a supply chain.

For more information

To learn more about the HTI, please visit the site here.

Watch the HTI webinar here.