As a healthcare software solutions engineer who is used to frequent travel and engaging with the country’s leading health systems on a daily basis, 2020 was a shockingly different year. Most healthcare supply chain leaders were under water trying to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the pandemic, so as expected, not much bandwidth was available to learn about software and data solutions; although they were needed more than ever. As things somewhat stabilized in 2021, the Prodigo Solutions team continued numerous conversations with current and aspiring clients about the challenges they continue to face within supply chain, along of their new priorities and primary focus moving forward.
Supply chain leaders are not being distracted by the shiny new toy or the latest buzzword. The crunch of the pandemic has forced health systems to focus on the core values of supply chain. In many ways, they are getting back to the basics of supply chain – quality patient care at an affordable price. And during our conversations with these leading systems throughout the year, Prodigo heard some prominent themes and pain points:
- Data, Data, Data. While battling the pandemic, health systems didn’t have the data that they needed, and they still struggle to manage the data that they do have. Reporting on the underlying transactional data is deficient.
- Single Source of Quality Data – Despite spending a lot of time and money trying to keep their master data updated, health systems still need quality data to make their supply chains run smoothly. A single source of truth (SSoT) for all master data is the ideal. This SSoT needs to include accurate item-based pricing information, common taxonomy, and trade identifiers, in addition to friendly end user descriptions and images.
- Automated Data Flow – Health systems cannot support manual data processes.
- Most healthcare supply chain leaders expressed their lack of tools to manage contract pricing information and a reliable way to get that pricing flowing from the source of truth to the systems that need it. They are looking to automate the flow of contract pricing from a dependable source, downstream to all required systems.
- They would like to integrate their master data with the Electronic Health Record (EHR). This would reduce the amount of time and effort required to maintain the item master and would ensure the items in the Electronic Medical Record (EMR)/EHR are fully enriched and attributed. Removing the reliance on downstream systems from the item master also eliminates the requirement that item master items have a custom description (30-character, specific order, etc.) or other attributes that are not required or beneficial within the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
- Special Requests and other non-standard workflows are not going away. In fact, Prodigo has seen an 18.4% increase in Special Request order volume over the course of the pandemic. Hiring buyers to manual process these orders is inefficient and adds the risk of error into processes that could be more automated. They need a way to inject good data attributes and pricing into those workflows.
- Timely Analytics – Supply chain leaders realize that data is invaluable, but only if it can be utilized. Identifying opportunities is only the first step; tools are needed to operationalize the corrective actions to realize those opportunities. A health system’s digital transformation journey needs to include real-time analytics, not reports on activity that took place more than 90 days ago. They also require actionable analytics with triggers to indicate what action needs to be taken and tools to make changes happen.
- Delivery of Care Is Changing Quickly. There is a current evolution in the delivery of care from an acute model to a model that is more clinic based, telemedicine based, and especially homecare based. The pandemic has accelerated this evolution and many supply chain leaders know that their current systems and processes do not handle these new delivery channels well. They need a single solution that covers all service models, not just acute care. This includes the need for simple mobile or web-based solutions that don’t require significant training, support, or infrastructure. Additionally, solutions must fully support supply chain initiatives for cost savings, sustainability, and supporting minority vendors, instead of opening new purchasing channel with little visibility or oversight.
- Rigorous Partnerships. Supply chain has rigorous requirements of their vendor partners.
- Time to value – It cannot take years to realize value from new supply chain solutions. All new partners must add value, from day one, and be able to prove it. Part of that value is expertise in the implementation process, especially healthcare expertise.
- Ease of implementation – IT is already burdened with cloud implementations, heightened security requirements due to the increase in ransomware attacks, and ongoing clinical system upgrades. New solutions must be easy to implement and even easier to adopt and use – they cannot add additional burden to supply chain, clinical, or administrative staff. Burnout is very real, as highlighted through the pandemic and manifesting through the significant rise in healthcare staff turnover.
- Bring the Network – Data doesn’t live in a vacuum. It takes thousands of trading partner connections to collect and maintain good quality data that enable perfect orders between your vendors. Onboarding vendors to your network needs to turn-key so that you can focus on delivering the value promise of each vendor relationship.
More recently, supply chain has gained recognition for its impact in healthcare and the future of the healthcare supply chain has begun to be reimaged and reworked. While still in the response and recovery stages of the ongoing pandemic, the industry has been able to better focus on crisis preparedness and the future of supply chain through new solutions, data, and resilience. Check out the Additional Resources below to learn how Prodigo Solutions currently addresses these commonly expressed pain points and supply chain themes, and how it will continue to do so in 2022.
2022 Outlook: Prodigo's view of where healthcare supply chain is headed
On demand recording: Prodigo Solutions' 2022 Roadmap