How bad supply chain affects the hospitals and doctors performance

By: | April 13th, 2021

It is imperative to understand that the healthcare sector is extremely critical and requires deeper attention, given the large interdependencies from every segment of the industry. Managing the healthcare supply chain is a rather complex and fragmented process. The Pandemic has enforced the need for conducive supply-chain strategies and management practices to optimize scarce resources, alleviate shortages, and expand capacity quickly. 

Although efficient management is not the solution or a substitute for dedicated and skilled medical personnel, improving broken supply chains is crucial to ensure that these professionals have the resources to perform their duties. This article aims to discuss the importance of SCM for healthcare givers and how inefficiencies directly affect the quality and output of providers to their patients. 

Cardinal Health’s fourth annual ‘Hospital Supply Chain Survey’ findings prove that 80% of clinicians spend more than double the amount of time than they would like to on supply chain-related tasks. Resulting in having less time with patients along with contributing to decreased professional satisfaction, increased stress levels, higher burnout levels, cost, and reduced quality of care delivery. 

Zooming out, taking a moment to ponder over how and what providers utilize to treat patients each day. They require a plethora of items including pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, scanning machines, stationery such as; pens, paper, prescriptions, hygiene gloves, masks, PPEs, blood/organ banks, much more, as well as computer devices for creating medical databases. Acquiring these items is a completely different game, managed by employees involved in the organization’s medical supply chain who are responsible for stocking and managing the inventory. Aligning SCM to the care delivery model is a battle fought by 67% of professionals. 

  • A whopping 74% of frontline health caregivers reported that supplies must be readily available and the lack of them is the biggest cause of low morale and productivity. 
  • 49% of providers admit that they, unfortunately, end up counting and tracking supplies manually themselves in order to keep a count of how many patients they can provide care for in a given timeframe. 
  • Out of these, 46% state that it contributes negatively to workforce productivity. 
  • 70% of doctors and nurses also complain that wasting, overutilization, and time consumed to adapt to new brands, equipment, and systems adds to the problem.

20 percent of supply managers and 25 percent of clinicians admit that finding supplies on time is a huge source of stress. Eight major concerns that come with broken health supply chains including:

  1. High wastage
  2. Defects
  3. Overproduction 
  4. Uncertain waiting time
  5. Confusion due to lack of transparency and knowledge
  6. Unnecessary motion
  7. Excess/lack of inventory
  8. Pressure and high chances of human error

The lack of readily available equipment adds to unnecessary increased clinician workload, consequently adding to time away from primary care delivery in search of requirements through personal efforts. This adds to higher frustration levels creating a perception that patient care and caregivers are not respected and not important enough for the providing organization. 

Limited basic supplies have put 86% of providers at the risk of infections while performing their duties, which adds to the already existing gap in the ratio of doctors and patients.  

Moreso, patient safety is threatened by workplace dissatisfaction as a large number of providers including nurses and doctors admit to misses and the inability to perform important tasks to improve the condition of patients. 

Supply chain management in the healthcare industry is challenging due to its impact on citizens’ health, requiring accurate and adequate medical supplies based on the needs of patients, with greater emphasis on time.

Becker’s hospital review mentions that in hospitals, the supply chain strategy must enable optimum patient care which can be done by ensuring product availability, minimizing storage space, maximizing patient care space, reducing material handling time and costs for all medical staff, minimizing non-liquid assets.

An invisible supply chain is one that is high order functioning due to which goes unnoticed in daily practice. The value of such an efficient chain can only be truly appreciated by those who rely upon it. It would make sense to recognize practitioners, like the citizens are primary customers whose needs must be met for them to function in a healthy environment. 


About the Author

Farhaan is the Founder and CEO of a Medical Supply Chain Management company. He has experience in a wide range of industries from tech to management, which fuels his desire for problem-solving. His vision is make this world into an efficient and sustainable place.