When is the last time you had a conversation with your customers
about emergency preparedness? Healthcare facilities as well as state and
local preparedness organizations must meet federal preparedness
requirements. Additionally, federal programs provide funding to these
entities for preparedness planning. Specifically, the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has regulations on preparedness
that providers must comply with in order to be eligible for Medicare and
Medicaid payments. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for
Preparedness and Response has a program that supports preparedness
coalitions. While both providers and community groups have been taking
steps to enhance preparedness, not many have had conversations with
I recently discussed the importance of collaborating with the healthcare
supply chain at the National Healthcare Coalition Preparedness
Conference. The audience included hospital and nursing home staff with
preparedness planning responsibility, state and local public health
officials, as well as local/community preparedness coalition leaders.
However, only a handful of attendees knew who the primary distributor
was for the large facilities in their community. Additionally, most of
them were unaware of what their distributor partners could do for them.
This is an opportunity to bridge a gap in preparedness efforts.
HIDA has numerous partnerships on preparedness at the federal level
and has secured supply chain language in the preparedness bill that will
reauthorize federal programs. Also, the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services now requires providers to have emergency preparedness
plans in order to be eligible for Medicare and Medicaid payments.
This provides distributors an opportunity to learn who at the local
level has community coalition responsibility and start a conversation.
In my presentation, I highlighted the following, but I’m sure there is
Develop alternate communication and delivery plans.
Natural disasters may leave main roads unusable or restricted to
emergency vehicles. Similarly, emergency events could shut down power or
cellular service. By providing emergency or alternate contacts, and
finding alternative delivery routes, you can ensure your customers can
receive information and needed supplies during a crisis. Also, make sure
you understand their evacuation plan, so supplies can still be
Pre-identify and pre-agree on substitutions. During
crises, providers will often panic-order certain goods. By working with
your customer to identify substitutes for the most commonly-needed item,
you can give them more flexibility during a crisis, and avoid
Maintain a “cushion” of products for customers. Similar
to the previous example, some distributors will maintain a dedicated
stockpile of supplies for their customers, in exchange for a fee.
Providers that pay for this service know their suppliers will be able to
supply goods that would otherwise be harder to obtain during a
Use purchasing data to predict future needs. During a
crisis, many different things can go wrong, and providers may not be
able to communicate what they need from their distributors. To help with
this, some distributors look at their customers’ purchasing data and
make predictions about what they need. That way, during an emergency,
they can be prepared to help their customers, even if communications
If you would like to learn more about HIDA’s efforts, or have
questions about what providers need to do to comply with new
regulations, please contact me at: HIDAGovAffairs@HIDA.org