Chaun Powell

Soumi Saha

By CHAUN POWELL, MBA and SOUMI SAHA, PharmD, JD

Say the word “shortage” to a healthcare professional and chances are the first thing that will come to mind is drug shortages. With good reason, too – there are more than 100 drugs currently at risk or not readily available for U.S. hospitals, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) drug shortage list. 

Shortages don’t just apply to drugs, however, and as 2019 has shown, healthcare providers must become more focused on shortages of the medical device variety. The shutdown of multiple medical device sterilization facilities in 2019 is poised to jeopardize the availability of devices that are critical to routine patient care. On Nov. 6, the FDA is hosting a panel to hear from stakeholders, including hospital epidemiologists and healthcare supply chain experts, on the risks associated with facility shutdowns and potential action steps.

The industry as a whole is in need of meaningful solutions. As taxpayers, patients and key stakeholders in healthcare, we must collaborate to eliminate interruptions to our healthcare supply chain. For those invested in improving healthcare from the inside, this means working across competitive boundaries and borrowing best practices from sister industries as we work to identify the root cause of these issues and provide meaningful and preventative solutions.

Supply chain is the second largest expense to healthcare providers in the U.S. behind labor. Where other industries have more predictable and transparent supply chain visibility, healthcare has historically proven to be more complex due to unique patient needs and physician preferences for specific products. Thus, sourcing flexibility is vital to patient care and operations, and tends to be even more constrained during shortages and market-induced scarcities. As healthcare homes in on expense reduction by targeting practice and product variation, providers depend even more on the reliability of their suppliers. Disruptions, however,

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