Clinical Integration of Healthcare Supply Chain


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Creating a Patient-Centered Supply Chain

For healthcare providers and suppliers costs, quality, and outcomes are at the forefront of most conversations. Perhaps it is just “a given” that what we do in supply chain is for the patients however value-based care requires all of us to create a more patient-centered approach to make an impact.

Creating a patient-centered supply chain starts with reframing what may previously have been a contentious or even non-existent relationship with physicians and clinicians. It means re-aligning around patients and value—not products or price.

For this new partnership to develop, the path forward must be paved with meaningful dialogue focused on outcomes and informed by clinical evidence. These 2 strategies are critical to creating a more patient-centered supply chain.

Strategy #1: Think like a physician

Supply chain leaders looking to engage physicians must emphasize the ultimate end goal—making healthcare better for patients. Physicians’ top concern will always be delivering the very best care in the most compassionate manner. Taking a patient-centered approach, rather than leading with a price or standardization conversation, makes physicians more receptive to listening, discussing, and ultimately partnering with supply chain in both the short and long-term. Getting physicians’ attention is just the first step. The next step to thinking like a physician is evaluating peer-reviewed literature that is accurate, thorough, and complete. Supply chain’s role is to provide this much-needed evidence to physicians who are hungry for this knowledge. This is an opportunity for supply chain to become a valuable resource for physicians who thrive on interpreting huge volumes of data, studies, and complex spreadsheets. Simply put the data in their hands, provide a forum to debate, and a productive dialogue will follow, with patients staying top of mind.

Strategy #2: Think like a patient

Like physicians, patients are often wowed by the newest medical devices on the market. They may even request new products by names. But in many cases, they wouldn’t be so impressed if they understood the clinical evidence and outcomes research associated with these shiny new technologies and most importantly, what’s at stake for their health.

For example, with the introduction of ceramic on ceramic bearings in total hip replacements, vendors made claims of less wear and increased longevity. However, a review of the evidence disputes these claims, finding no improvements in revision rates, increased rates of implant fractures, and squeaking in up to 8% of patients. Does squeaking sound like an ideal patient outcome? By thinking like a patient, outcomes become tangible and real, not just scientific—and isn’t that how you would expect hospitals to be vetting medical devices?

Providers and suppliers alike have a responsibility to provide the highest quality service at the best possible cost. This means working together in a more innovative way. By keeping the patient and financial outcomes the primary driver, we can find ways to improve overall delivery of healthcare.

The key takeaway is that simultaneously improving costs, quality, and outcomes is challenging but it will get easier by adopting the right strategies and thinking differently. As long as we have a shared focus on patients first, we’re heading in the right direction.


Please contact me for more insights on how to create a patient-centered supply chain in your organization.

Joey Donatelli