I had the opportunity to participate in a recent event where a group
of HIDA Thought Leaders met to evaluate the function of medical products
distribution and determine its role in healthcare today. These
manufacturer and distributor executives examined three core value
propositions to see what’s changed and how distribution’s value is
- Patient care – Distribution frees healthcare providers from procurement tasks so they can focus on patient care.
- Cost management – Distributors improve procurement planning and help providers realize cost savings.
- Efficient access – Distributors increase efficiency by assisting
medical facilities with time-consuming steps in the procurement process.
In many ways, these fundamentals remain the same. Regardless of how
medical products get purchased, someone has to transport them from point
A to the patient. Since healthcare providers and clinicians need to
spend more time than ever focusing on patient care, distributors are
highly capable to serve a valuable role by managing everyday procurement
tasks and logistics.
Managing costs continues to be a top priority for nearly every
business, regardless of industry. What’s changed for health systems,
however, is that these organizations must now be looking for broader
ways to manage their overall patient population costs rather than simply
scrutinizing medical product costs. Providers can still enhance their
bottom lines by leveraging distributor resources to assist in creating
environments that improve overall patient experience, most recently
outlined in HIDA’s patient satisfaction research.
Distributors are already starting to see their customer relationships
evolve rapidly into more consultative interactions beyond order
management. By using vital product outcomes data, for example,
distributors can help providers make better-informed PPI decisions and
get the most return for every dollar spent on supplies. And distributors
continue to deliver new technologies that accelerate the adoption of
innovative business solutions, leading to better patient outcomes and
increased efficiency gains throughout the healthcare products supply
Another noteworthy result from the meeting was the group’s
recognition that these distribution value propositions don’t simply
apply downstream to healthcare providers, but also upstream to medical
product manufacturers, putting distributors squarely in the center of
healthcare supply chain solutions. It takes a lot of effort and
expertise to ensure consistent product availability and smooth delivery
throughout the continuum of care, and distributors are well positioned
to continue serving this need for their customers and trading partners.
Overall, the meeting reaffirmed that distribution is more valuable
than ever as providers and manufacturers seek to optimize healthcare
delivery. Its core functions of maximizing patient outcomes, reducing
the total cost of care, and improving patient experience cannot be
ignored or understated.