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Partnering with Your Supply Chain Team

by Tina Nam, CHEF Communications Committee Member and Strategic Sourcing Manager, Rush University Medical Center

Healthcare supply chain has made significant progress over the years. Not only are supply chain professionals working to keep products stocked on the shelves, they are actively engaging with vendors, clinicians, and hospital leaders to improve inefficiencies and patient outcomes. From operations to procurement, supply chain professionals are providing a fresh perspective to problem-solving using data analytics and technology.

According to data released from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), healthcare expenditures grew by 3.9%, or $10,739 per person in 2017, and accounted for 17.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Furthermore, CMS predicts that the spending is projected to grow at an average rate of 5.5% per year and reach nearly $6.0 trillion by 2027.[1] Presently, independent research from the Market Realist found that medical supplies account for approximately 17% of total hospital expenses.[2] As costs continue to rise, supply chain professionals can help find solutions to reduce excessive spending. In order to be well-positioned to lead and meet the diverse needs of patients and clinicians, it is essential that organizations actively engage their supply chain teams.

Many organizations today have included a supply chain executive on their leadership teams who provide operational and financial insights. Although total cost is an important factor when making purchasing decisions, there are many other aspects for organizations to consider, such as quality and consistent product availability. By supporting interdisciplinary approaches to patient care with active communication and transparency, supply chain professionals can partner with organizations and their teams to find the right products in a timely manner.

It is important to realize that sometimes having to choose a higher costing product can dependably bring value to one’s team and help avoid further complications in stressful situations. When supplies are regularly on backorder or have quality inconsistencies, it can cause more disruptive issues than an alternative item. Vendors, clinicians, and supply chain professionals must work together to find the right product that fits the needs of all key stakeholders. Additional benefits from partnering with one’s supply chain team can include: an increase in organizational transparency, a reduction of costs through sustainable purchasing practices, and an improvement with clinical integration.

As healthcare continues to evolve, supply chain will inevitably evolve as well. When it comes to evaluating new technologies and products, it is important to include the supply chain team in the operational decision-making process. With access to benchmarking and utilization data, supply chain professionals may help bring hidden information into light to make better decisions for their organizations.

This year, National Healthcare Supply Chain Week is October 6-12. Help celebrate with your supply chain team!

[1] Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. NHE Fact Sheet. Retrieved from

[2] Patrick, M. A Closer Look at Medical Supplies and Hospital Expenses. Market Realist. Retrieved from

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