SPECIAL FOCUS Sponsored by Future-ready Supply Chains may no

without hiccup or interruption, stockouts, backorders, price discrepancies and bad or incomplete data figments of the past. Of course, we’re not there yet as artificial intelligence hasn’t yet replaced human cognition and effort, nor have data-sharing conduits and online access been protected by impenetrable and impregnable cybersecurity measures — and likely will never be — nor have transportation routes been immunized to crises, disasters or clotting traffic patterns. In short, we still have a way to go before we can scoff at disruption, embrace the idea of supply networks (as opposed to chains and channels) with ubiquitous and unfettered flow of accurate and unadulterated informa- tion 24/7/365.


Aside from attracting and training the right kinds of supply chain-minded profes- sionals and steering them along pathways to decision-making in the executive C-suites, healthcare facilities look to their product and service suppliers (including management/ operations consultants), information technol- ogy and software companies and what supply chain pros are doing in other industries to prepare and succeed. From purchased services (a trendier term

that has absorbed the less politically cor- rect “outsourcing” and “third party [insert specialty here]” terms) to cloud- and com- puter-based as well as online functionality (software-as-a-service anyone?), healthcare supply chain pros and execs have to work diligently to wade through the smoke and mirrors surrounding the plethora of solution options on parade.

What’s out there, ripe for the picking or

needs more germination and seasoning before harvest? Much of what’s available now can be grouped into several categories where the lines between them admittedly can be blurred into overlapping. They are apps for mobile device use, software and equipment. Yet a number of specific products and services are starting to pop out/up from those categories, gaining plenty of attention, interest and media

n a utopian world, a future-ready Sup- ply Chain model might amount to one that runs itself — fluidly, smoothly, and

coverage. They include artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), blockchain, In- ternet of Things (IoT) or Machine-to-Machine (M2M) master planning, mobile devices/ technology, robotics/”co”botics, 3-D printing and virtual reality (VR), which is different from AR, and that digital/online retail jug- gernaut Amazon.

“We believe that continual cost pressures will drive the need for system consolidation and leveraging scale,” said Sean O’Neill, Executive Vice President, St. Onge Co. “This will be achieved through the use of Centers of Excellence that perform medical/surgical [supply] distribution functions and process intense capabilities (e.g., Central Sterile, Phar- macy, Central Laboratories and others). With scale, the operations can leverage mature and proven processes, software and technologies, as well as newly developed technologies from other industries.”

Adhering to universal data standards for

products and services will be a linchpin to driving success, according to Tom Redding, Managing Director, Healthcare Services, St. Onge Co., something other industries have recognized for some time. “Other industries (e.g., retail and automo- tive) are way ahead of healthcare in terms of implementing data standards for product identification, unit of measure, etc.,” Red- ding said. “This information is essential to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare supply chains.” Healthcare Purchasing News explores both product and service areas through the eyes of observing supplier executives. Check out the sidebar online ( generation-supply-chain-hurdles-may-self- destruct-in-five-seconds/) for the “pop-outs,” including artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain, 3-D printing and robotics.

Apps help make tracks Apps that can be used on mobile devices or on standard computers allow directed workflows to accomplish tasks without all the clutter of full software packages. Those that are components of a software package work in tandem to provide powerful supply


management tools, allow- ing different levels of access driven by the work that an individual is responsible for completing.

Suzanne Alexander-

Vaughn, Senior Product Manager, Product Development, Global Automation & Medication Adherence division of Omnicell Inc.

More people have phones than computers these days, and phones are becoming more ubiquitous every single day. Phones are more accessible (as well as affordable), and advancements in technology have facilitated a growing number of internet-connected global citizens who have access to a global market- place. This is great for commerce, it’s great for app developers and it’s great for innovation. Our current HealthSapiens 1.0 platform (serving more than 22,000 members and 1,000 Board-certified physicians) is acces- sible through a secure member portal using a mobile phone, tablet or computer. However, our upcoming HealthSapiens 2.0 platform (and integrated mobile app) is being designed from the ground up to further-streamline the process of connecting physicians to patients. We’re making it easy for our members (“Sapi- ens”) to track health-related goals, access and share electronic medical re- cord (EMR) data and more. If physicians are just a few taps away, we believe we can help people be healthier and make better decisions. Karim Babay, CEO & Founder, HealthSapiens

Available today are mobile apps that con- nect and support a provider organization’s end-to-end supply chain functions, yet we still see gaps in processes that require human intervention. Provider team leaders still place a headcount into a system as a bridge, in place of pure technology-driven automation. This means that we’re missing opportunities to streamline and reduce costs, and replace

longer be Mission: Impossible What concepts and ideas will help healthcare supply chain operations

prepare for what may emerge environmentally, financially, politically? by Rick Dana Barlow

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