We have all experienced commodity shortages over the last 18 months, which continue to hinder a smooth operating supply chain for our healthcare organizations. Unfortunately, these shortages are expected to continue through 2023 due to the multiple effects of the pandemic. That’s why these three surefire cures which I have listed below for your commodity shortages can make the difference between satisfying your customers or disrupting their clinical or business operations:
1. Conduct a Functional Analysis: Ask yourself and your value analysis teams what the product in short supply does (use a verb and noun to describe it). Then brainstorm with your VA teams for an equal or better substitute. For example, McDonald’s ran out of food bags (hold food) during the pandemic, then substituted dinner trays (hold food) to satisfy their take-out customers’ requirements. You can apply this same VA test to most any products in your healthcare organization and easily find a substitute product or solution that meets your customers’ requirements reliably, safely, and effectively. This is the original purpose of the value analysis methodology which is to find equivalent or better alternative products that were in short supply that was created by the effects of World War II.
2. Assess Your Make or Buy Decisions: Just because you always bought a product doesn’t mean you couldn’t make it or produce it at your own facility, like making it with a 3D printer, going back to reusables, or having volunteers make or assemble it. This is a strategy that shouldn’t just be considered by supply chain professionals when shortages arise but should be a viable option with a long-term perspective in mind.
3. Partner With Your Regional GPOs: A number of regional GPOs have become more than just aggregators for their members. They are now becoming logistic managers by buying PPE and other critical supplies and then warehousing them for the exclusive use of their members; thus, sharing the cost, risk, and responsibility of having mission critical supplies available when needed.
As mentioned previously, the commodity shortages you have been experiencing because of the pandemic aren’t going away overnight. Therefore, you need to come up with strategies (like those suggested in this article) to meet your customers’ requirements during these turbulent times because failure to do so isn’t an option.
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