A Global Pandemic Highlights The Value Of Distribution
Healthcare industry leaders convene to look forward and reflect on meeting pandemic challenges
HIDA Government Affairs Update
Linda Rouse O'Neill
Vice President, Government Affairs, HIDA
Medical product distributors’ perseverance and commitment to their healthcare provider customers were central themes throughout the HIDA Educational Foundation’s Executive Conference in March. Leaders came together to look forward and reflect on the importance of a resilient supply chain. More than 600 executives from healthcare distributors, manufacturers, GPOs, technology firms, and provider organizations attended the virtual event.
4 key takeaways:
- Distributors delivered core and new values. Distributors’ scope of responsibility expanded to a new level by protecting teammates and families while keeping life-saving products flowing to care providers. Panelists noted that in mid-March 2020 New York City and other metro areas were shut down while other parts of the country hadn’t reported a single case of COVID. By working closely with governments and all links in the supply chain, distributors got critical pandemic-fighting products to the points where it was needed most.
- Distributors reinforced their role as trusted healthcare partners. Medical products distributors responded to the pandemic by reliably delivering record levels of FDA-approved critical medical supplies to healthcare providers. In 2020, HIDA members distributed 51 billion units of PPE including 1,200% more N95 respirators than in 2019, noted HIDA President & CEO Matthew J. Rowan in a panel discussion with other healthcare industry executives.
- Diversified sourcing strengthens the global supply chain. Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D., the former White House coronavirus coordinator, said the U.S. will benefit from manufacturing medical supplies such as PPE and becoming an exporter of these critical products. Healthcare CEOs noted that countries working collaboratively outside their borders were able to obtain critical COVID-fighting products much more effectively than countries that put up barriers.
- Federal, industry partnership defined pandemic response. By working together, the government and commercial distributors can understand the planned health response for a variety of scenarios and what’s going to be required to save lives. By reviewing processes and reflecting on lessons learned during COVID, distributors, manufacturers and the federal government will continue to support supply chain resiliency, senior Strategic National Stockpile officials told attendees.
COVID Accelerates Trends in Patient Care
In a wide-ranging discussion on COVID’s lasting impacts on healthcare market dynamics, CEOs from Henry Schein, Medline, and Premier shared their thoughts on COVID’s impacts on patient care.
- Telemedicine and the shift to patient care at urgent care centers and away from hospitals has been accelerated during the pandemic.
- The importance of collaboration between the private sector and government has been heightened.
- The government has a greater understanding of the uses of diagnostics such as point-of-care rapid tests.
- Distributors who understand the healthcare market and regulatory requirements for medical products showed great value as trusted partners.
- COVID accelerated the movement to alternative payment models as providers continue to move away from a fee-for-service model to patient-centered care.