Creating a More Agile Procurement Process with Healthcare Supply Chain Software

At the time of writing, we have just entered into the second year of a global pandemic, with the healthcare industry continuing to operate at the front lines of this crisis. In that time, healthcare organizations have adapted to their new reality, several vaccines have been created, and a massive vaccination effort has begun.

One of the key lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for healthcare organizations to be more agile and more efficient when it comes to managing their supply chains. While better than they were at the onset of the pandemic, supply chains are still strained in some areas, and the ever-evolving global challenges mean healthcare facilities need to be ready if and when another crisis occurs. To combat these challenges, healthcare organizations need to be able to respond to changes more quickly and be able to adapt their procurement processes at a moment's notice.

Why Healthcare Supply Chain Management Needs to be More Agile

It isn’t a stretch to say that 2020 was an incredibly disruptive and challenging year for procurement managers, with supply shortages and radical increases in prices. For example, the price of personal protective equipment (PPE) rose as much as 1000% by April of 2020.

With massive shortages, many companies that have never produced medical supplies switched their productions to create much-needed supplies like masks and face shields. As detailed in this article by Harvard Business Review, while this influx of goods from non-traditional suppliers helped to elevate supply shortages, it also meant that procurers had the challenge of adjusting their vendor approval processes or, in some cases, were unable to pay these new vendors due to restrictive billing policies. Other challenges, such as many healthcare facilities relying on outdated supply chain management (SCM) software, meant a lack of automation and poor analytics.

All of these challenges combined point to the need for healthcare organizations to improve the agility of their supply chains. Organizations need to make it easy to source and pay new providers and work more efficiently with existing vendors. Healthcare providers also need to work more closely with suppliers in order to ensure that the products they receive best meet their sometimes rapidly changing needs.

Transforming with Modern Healthcare Supply Chain Software

It was made clear at the onset of the pandemic was that some healthcare organizations were better equipped to adjust to the crises than others. Organizations that were further along their modernization journey were able to pivot to the new way of work faster and more smoothly than those in the early stages of transformation.

Modern, cloud-based healthcare supply chain software allowed workers to teams to work remotely with minimal disruption.

Here’s a look at how a modern healthcare supply chain software solution, such as Workday Supply Chain Management for Healthcare, can improve agility:

  • It is simpler, more user-friendly, and accessible anywhere. Legacy supply chain solutions tend to be cumbersome and tricky to use, making it hard to train new employees in and perform certain actions, like accessing certain reports. With a modern SaaS solution, however, supply chain teams can access the functionality they need when they need it.
  • Improve data collection and analysis. To spot trends and opportunities, run through different procurement scenarios, and develop a plan for the future, healthcare organizations need to pool data from their various systems into one place where it can then be examined. A cloud-based SCM solution collects this data, along with data from other tools that it is integrated with (including potentially, the organization’s Human Capital Management and Financial Management systems), and produces more comprehensive reports. Since this data exists in real-time, supply chain managers can spot and respond to opportunities faster than they would traditionally.
  • Streamline processes. A modern SCM software tool makes the entire procure-to-pay process more efficient by automating certain tasks, combining all of the tools related to the supply chain in one solution and makes it easier to make certain changes, like adding new inventory sites or change approval processes on the fly. The result? A more flexible system that can be changed more readily to adapt to new challenges. Also, because supply chain managers spend less time on manual processes such as pulling reports, they have more time to analyze existing data and thus operate more strategically.

Achieving greater agility in healthcare supply chain management isn’t solely about technology – it requires alignment between people, processes, and technology. Adopting a cloud-based SCM solution lays the foundation for greater change, however, giving supply chain teams the tools needed to become more efficient and nimbler.

To learn more about Collaborative Solutions’ healthcare services, visit our Healthcare page.

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