A report titled Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century listed six specific major goals for improving the healthcare system, particularly in the U.S. These goals include making the healthcare more 1) safe, 2) efficient, 3) effective, 4) timely, 5) equitable, and 6) patient-centred. The report said that achieving these goals would benefit both current and future patients by providing more targeted, widely available and less expensive care. And a patient-centred supply chain is intended to help health organisations achieve these goals.
What is a patient-centric supply chain?
There is no consensus definition of patient-centredness or patient-centricity. Tracelink defined a patient-centric supply chain as a way to help health organisations achieve the aforementioned goals by leveraging analytics to understand patient behaviour. Through patient-centric analytics, healthcare workers can make better decisions about inventory needs and orchestrate positive patient outcomes.
Tracelink’s Chief Digital Transformation Office Roddy Martin said that having a patient-centric supply chain in place could help healthcare sectors get rid of hundreds of days of patient’s inventory. The analytics used in the process is critical as it involves all patients sharing data in real-time and collaborating the way back into the product supply network.
Patient-centric is more vital during hurdles, like the COVID-19 pandemic
The spread of COVID-19 has broken the weak links in the healthcare supply chain, with the greatest impacts falling on healthcare professionals and their patients. What were chronic problems before the pandemic’s worst hit, have progressed into a series of acute supply chain failures that have limited and delayed COVID-19 testing and contributed to shortages of critical medical equipment.
Recently, the healthcare sectors have rebuilt their strategies to ensure the global healthcare system recovered from the outbreak. The presence of a patient-centred supply chain would present many benefits. Placing patients at the centre of a rebuilt supply chain will lead to a more resilient system. With patients and outcomes at the centre, all stakeholders can share data more broadly. Further, a singular, patient-centred view will enable better planning for suppliers, caregivers, institutions and communities.
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General benefits patient-centric supply chain could bring to healthcare
The pharma industries need to critically engineer a patient-centric supply chain to keep essential inventory flowing to where it is needed most, and to increase the resilience of its supply chain operations. Moreover, focusing on a patient-centric supply chain can bring four key benefits to the healthcare supply chain industry, such as follows:
- Patient safety becomes a top priority. Ensuring the clinical efficacy and safety of products throughout the supply chain’s lifecycle by way of a timely product evaluation or product performance checks has been critical during a pandemic that has generated huge demand shock
- When requirements are met, the healthcare supply chain can operate more efficiently, safely, and quickly.
- There will be less inventory to be carried out by enabling a patient-centric supply chain which will provide supply chain managers with a consistent and logical strategy plan.
- The clinical trial landscape can be transformed effectively. As direct-to-patient services evolve in the supply chain to help meet patient requirements in restricted face-to-face environments, clinical sponsors are looking toward direct-to-patient clinical trial models to improve the patient experience.
- Since a patient-centric supply chain uses analytics to ensure its fast pace, the use of it demonstrates the value of a digital network platform.
Developing patient-centric supply chain
The patient-centric healthcare supply chain management style requires a health system or hospital to build its operations around what best supports the clinical and the patients. To achieve the best practice, developing and achieving patient-centric effectively and efficiently is critical. Below are groundbreaking steps to achieve a patient-centric healthcare supply chain:
- Creating a patient-centric culture should be of the utmost importance. When every department and individual within a healthcare organisation places the patient as their priority of work, the quality and value of care increases.
- Building multidisciplinary teams is the fastest way and most efficient way to deal with difficulties. Healthcare supply chain management leaders might struggle to make supply decisions that are beneficial to both the health of patients and the financial health of their organisations. Therefore, having a dedicated team to deal with such issues could save cost in the long term as well as make the work in the healthcare supply chain more collaboratively.
- Leverage the use of technology, particularly blockchain, AI, data analytics and machine learning. By implementing a patient-centred supply chain, powered by well-tested tools and emerging technologies, health organisations can affect much-needed improvements in their processes, procedures, and outcomes.
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