Pandemic, Year Three
Key Takeaways On The Value Of Distribution
As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, leaders from the Health Industry Distributors Association and the HIDA Educational Foundation convened to share observations gleaned from their experience and recommend best practices for the future.
The importance of technology and data have changed perceptions of visibility.
- Customers don’t just want more product — they want more information. They want to know the volume of every item in their inventory at all times.
- Customers are using data to manage scarcity. People want actionable data to make decisions about stockpiles. Information creates confidence. Uncertainty leads to hoarding.
- Visibility is a proxy for reliability. Rather than know exactly where a particular item is located within the supply chain, customers want to know that the supplies will be there when they need them.
Market to providers as technology partners.
- Invest in technology.
- Focus on the importance of the last mile of delivery. Healthcare systems are all connected now, making it possible to follow the patient through the healthcare system.
- Message to customers themes of reliability and predictability. Build on distribution success stories from the pandemic.
The pandemic has changed patient expectations.
- Telehealth has increased patient visits, but reduced the consumption of healthcare products. Telehealth is expected to make up 15% to 20% of post-pandemic visits — approximately double the pre-pandemic baseline.
- Location of care delivery has changed. What was once done in the hospital is done in an urgent care. What was once done in a doctor’s office is now done via telehealth. What was once done in a testing clinic is done in a pharmacy parking lot.
Follow the patient through the healthcare system.
- Recognize that changes in care delivery are here to stay, especially the huge growth in non-acute and home care.
- Understand that needs at point of care are changing.
- Acknowledge new market entrants give patients more choices.
Staffing issues represent an opportunity for healthcare distributors.
- Staffing is an enormous challenge for providers, but that creates an opportunity to demonstrate the value of distribution.
- Over 19% of all hospitals in the United States are experiencing critical staffing shortages, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.
- Levels of turnover and burnout in the nursing profession are unprecedented.
Distributors can act as an extension of providers’ healthcare staff and as a means to boost labor efficiency.
- Educate providers about how medical supplies assist with staffing. Show how products eliminate wasteful steps. Inform providers about additional services that distributors can offer to provide relief to overworked frontline caregivers.
- Work together with providers to avoid duplication of effort on supply chain needs, such as vetting potential new suppliers.
- Solicit feedback on product innovations providers would recommend to make clinical care more efficient or otherwise reduce staff time.
HIDA To Assist Workforce Development With Online Job Portal
The long-term health of the medical supply chain industry depends on a robust workforce. HIDA has convened a Workforce Development Council, co-chaired by Gina Marchese at Concordance Healthcare Solutions and Chris Fagnani with Lynn Medical, to address this challenge.
The Workforce Development Council has been charged with three key tasks:
- Identifying career paths in the healthcare distribution industry, so applicants can see how entry-level positions can mature into lifelong careers.
- Developing a diverse pipeline of applicants for internships and entry-level positions.
- Building and launching an online healthcare jobs portal in conjunction with the HIDA website, where prospective applicants can browse listings and apply for jobs.
HIDA members interested in learning more about the Workforce Development Council and the online job portal can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
This article features in the March/April 2022 edition of Healthcare Distribution & Supply Chain