Managing the healthcare supply chain was vital and complex even before the onset of the global pandemic. Healthcare is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world. In 2018, healthcare was an $8.5 trillion global industry, and it is projected to grow to $10 trillion by the end of 2022. In the U.S. alone, the industry was worth $4 trillion in 2020.
COVID-19 put the health care supply chain to the ultimate test, shining a light on the need for flawlessly functioning critical infrastructure to transport health care supplies from manufacturers to wholesale distributors and retailers — and the ultimate end users: patients.
Old Dominion facilitated a panel with three health care industry players at the 2020 LogiMed Virtual Conference, during which several themes emerged when asked to reflect on the impact of 2020:
1.) Having your resiliency / contingency plan in place is not an option, but a necessity. Many health care professionals may have had a crisis plan, but it may not have accounted for a global pandemic impacting medical supply chains. Companies must think through all aspects of their emergency preparedness plans, including choosing the right partners to keep their supply chain intact and running during times of emergency. Talk with your logistics partners about having adequate capacity and flexibility to manage peaks in demands.
2.) Data is critical for managing your healthcare supply chain. Gather and use data to track your supply and logistics trends, even though predicting demand has become as much art as science over the last few years. At Old Dominion, our customers saw a large influx of healthcare and medical products that needed distribution to stores and medical facilities on tight timeframes.
3.) Do not take anything for granted, including the ability to get the materials and products you need. It is better to go ahead and place orders for long lead-time items that are predicted to be in demand. Be stocked and be prepared to make sure your inventory is ready to move to market.
All these lessons underline the fact that healthcare supply chain management is complex, as shipments are often time-sensitive and need to get on shelves quickly. That is why many healthcare product manufacturers and distributors have increasingly moved to a delivery appointment model.
At Old Dominion, our delivery appointment model, Expedited On Demand service, provides the dependability and precision this sector needs. Maybe our customer needs to be first to market with a newly approved medicine to beat the competition — or perhaps there is an urgent health crisis their products can address. Our On Demand service is a custom solution that meets our customers’ exact needs. These shipments are monitored 24/7 and are managed outside of our regular load plan to ensure each shipment gets where it needs to go on a specific date and within a predetermined timeframe.
Simply put: healthcare supply chains can’t fail. Critical supplies have to make it to customers, or the consequences can be severe. And Old Dominion can help.
*2020 LogiMed Healthcare Supply Chain Summit