Patient care is reliant on an adaptive supply chain—healthcare’s backbone. A patient undergoing treatment needs a consistent supply of certain drugs. An elderly patient with physical restraints needs access to mobility aids such as walkers, wheelchairs, and rollators. An injured party rushed into the emergency room (ER) needs life-saving drugs and medical equipment to make it through surgery.
Supply chain disruptions don’t just affect pharmaceutical companies and distributors. They make it difficult for pharmacies and healthcare providers to provide their patients with optimal patient care.
Supply shortages in 2022
The U.S. healthcare system continues to face a number of supply shortages ranging from syringes and needles to antibiotics and pain medications. Such shortages often force healthcare providers to seek alternative treatment procedures in order to continue care for patients in need.
Factors contributing to supply shortages include:
- Component scarcities which limit the manufacturer’s ability to keep up with product demand.
- Backlogged ports that continue to slow the intake and distribution of transatlantic shipments.
- Transportation delays brought about by internal and external factors.
- Geopolitical events inadvertently causing inadequate access to raw materials.
Over 10% of often-used stocked items required for patient treatment remain unfilled in the healthcare industry as a whole. That’s a significant difference when average fill rates previously sat between 96% and 98%. What this influx of unfilled orders ultimately equates to is declining patient care, leading pharmacies and healthcare providers to avoid disruptions by stockpiling supplies.
Addressing supply chain challenges
The challenges the pharmaceutical supply chain faces today are just as complex as the supply chain itself and have the potential to continue well into 2023. One snag in the supply chain can cause a domino effect and, in turn, impact the total costs from manufacturing to transportation.
It’s a chain reaction that has invited healthcare professionals to stop and reassess their priorities to maintain optimal patient care during any periods of supply chain distress. According to a survey of 138 healthcare leaders, supply chain management is now the second most important priority—only outranked by patient safety. The survey concluded that supply chain analytics has also become increasingly important in day-to-day operations.