Posted March 8, 2021
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Recognizing the Critical Role of Supply Chain

The Demand on Supply

Selecting products for good patient outcomes while keeping a handle on the bottom line is tricky.


There’s usually one in every family—the person who fills the role of keeping everyone happy and in harmony. The same holds true in the hospital setting, only in this case, the peacemaker is a whole department – Supply Chain

Selecting products for good patient outcomes while keeping a handle on the bottom line is tricky. The dual role of the Supply Chain Manager has evolved into a critical conduit between the clinician’s preferences and fiscal responsibility. But, how hard can it really be to order a few products? Let’s take a look at what goes into the decision-making process.

Weighing the Factors

Considering how many departments live within a hospital, the scope of the task starts to swell. And each unit has specific needs in order to effectively treat a patient. From support surfaces to pens, Supply Chain has a stake in all decisions. That’s a lot of products! But also factoring in patient outcomes and personal preferences adds to the complexity of product selection. It’s more than just picking an item out of a catalog. Supply Chain personnel must be adept in multi-tasking. 

Despite the obvious need for multiple products, Supply Chain still does not have carte blanche to order everything on the wish list. Hospital supply expenses are the second highest within a facility after payroll. According to Definitive Healthcare data, US hospitals spend $36 billion on medical and surgical supplies annually, averaging 11.9 million per hospital. That’s a lot of cash! Managing these dollars can be overwhelming enough, but deciding where and what to cut adds insult to injury. Supply Chain personnel must be financial wizards to manage it all. 

But it’s not just about products and penny-pinching. There are a lot of stakeholders in this game as well. Supply Chain juggles clinician preferences, C-suite mandates, purchasing contracts, patients’ families, and the patients themselves. That’s a lot of voices! Products that are ineffective and uncomfortable are not helping the cause. And with patient satisfaction driving the ship, Supply Chain personnel must also aim to please.

Is it possible to make decisions that benefit everyone? 

Yes. Products with versatile uses are a good place to start. One product addressing multiple needs is a silver lining to Supply Chain personnel expected to accommodate everyone while trimming the budget. Products that perform a designated task but also provide comfort and the flexibility to travel with patients throughout the hospital journey are solid solutions. There are fewer products sitting on shelves, which trickle down to less money spent. But patient outcomes aren’t jeopardized. It’s a win/win!  It’s completely possible to find solutions in product versatility to best meet the patients’ needs without compromising the budget.