Providers Stockpile, Leverage Tech to Address Potential Supply Shortages

Providers Stockpile, Leverage Tech to Address Potential Supply Shortages. A stack of blue surgical masks with N95 masks on top of them.With the daily count of COVID-19 diagnoses spiking nationally and some hospitals experiencing surge levels not seen since the spring, and with flu season upon us, an important question looms: Will health care’s global supply chain be able to meet the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other products?

That proved problematic earlier this year, with shortages of face masks, shields, swabs and other products. This led many providers to tap the National Strategic Stockpile through their states, a process that three-fourths of hospital staff responding to a recent survey from Premier found complicated, confusing and overly bureaucratic.

Many organizations also changed their product sourcing and stockpiling strategies, focusing on building greater reserves of PPE and other supplies. This again raises concerns about the burden this will place on product availability. So, what’s the solution?

California-based Sutter Health converted two of its existing warehouses into stockpiles for distribution across the system, according to a Healthcare Dive report.

Others, like Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health and Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare, long ago invested in centralizing their inventory and warehouse operations to avoid disruptions in a crisis. And while these efforts helped the organizations manage distribution more effectively, they remain concerned about manufacturers’ abilities to keep up with demand.

To address these concerns, many including Banner Health are using artificial intelligence and data to track supply usage and manage resources more effectively.

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