No one could have predicted the sudden, tremendous impact of COVID-19 on companies, individuals, and healthcare organizations worldwide. Supply chains, most notably in our industry hospitals, have been under intense pressure as they struggled to adapt and maintain inventory control. In some cases, hospitals fought to uphold vendor and distributor management in uncertain conditions. In other cases, enterprises pivoted to produce what the world needs, often upending their usual production plans.
Healthcare leaders know they need access to trusted supply-related information before making important decisions to support hospital and critical frontline workers and nursing staff. Without it, hospitals lose the ability to ensure nurses have what they need when supply chains become overrun. This is especially true where product and service suppliers are involved. In most enterprises, supplier information is stored across disparate functions and systems. This fragmentation is a barrier to informed decision-making and prevents businesses from leading with confidence.
Without trusted actionable healthcare supply chain data, hospitals may find themselves in a state of paralysis. Up until now, the only substitute for actionable supply reporting data was staff time and effort. Hospitals without a strong analytics suite don't have either of those things right now. Even if the time and effort could be invested, most hospitals lack information that is complete, timely, and trusted to make decisions that influence their nurses' ability to do their job at the highest standards. This uncertainty can lead to friction between nursing and SCM staff, lost opportunities, and even failure. Without trusted supplier information, making informed decisions during this time can be crippling.
It's important to learn how a hospital can stay ahead of the issues that arise before and during a crisis. Doug Clark, the Director of Supply Chain Services at Montage Health in Monterey, CA, is a senior leader responsible for providing supply chain services to a large and prominent patient community. Doug shares the common goal of any strong leader to provide his team and nurses with the actionable data and supplies they need to treat patients effectively.
Doug graciously explains the many advantages of having a robust data and actionable reporting platform such as BlueQ Analytics before and during the pandemic. “Montage Health has been using BlueQ Analytics as our daily management system and dashboard for years now. BlueBin was able to build our COVID dashboard as an add-on, custom-built dashboard."
"Then, just recently we commissioned another dashboard which we call our MOGO dashboard because we opened three urgent care centers which we coined MOGO (Montage On the Go) and BlueBin built those within about a week. Our urgent care centers are actually a different company under our enterprise umbrella, and we have a separate COO that manages them. So, we thought wouldn't it be nice if he had his own login to the BlueQ dashboard for his three centers to manage supplies and be able to really see how everything is being managed."
“We've been partnering with BlueBin and using the BlueQ Analytics suite for six-plus years now. We actually have a Program Manager position and title that we specifically created for just BlueBin and also for our ERP mobile supply chain. BlueBin does a good job fostering ownership in their employees and that's what they want, so it's been awesome to experience that. It's been proven so many times when I contact either Gerry (BlueBin's CIO) or Chris and Aaron from the BlueBin IT team, ‘Hey, could you guys help me with this?’ And within 24 hours it's done! You know, it's so refreshing to be able to work with people that are so open to new ideas and then expand on them.”
“We weren't necessarily looking for anything like the COVID dashboard when they started talking about this as a solution. We actually had a call with Gerry's team, our Program Manager, Van, and me. We just said, ‘Hey you know with this whole pandemic, we're going to really start to have some problems trying to capture all of these transactions and where they're going. Especially the way we've been doing it in an expensed model. Do you think is there is any way that BlueBin could potentially help us?’"
"I mean, their brains just started going and they came back the next day and said, ‘What if we build you another dashboard and have it for these specific items?’ I think when we started, we only had like five product categories and now it's more like 10. Over time, we built out the categories that became more important for the State of California to know about what we were doing and what was our inventory level, that kind of thing.”
Clark goes on to add, “Because we were actually displaying the second page of our dashboard to our task force and our hospital incident command system every morning, I would snip an image and also download the PDF and send it every morning at seven o'clock and just said, ‘Here's where we're at. These are the things that we're still working to try to get more of.”
“If you have access to the BlueQ COVID dashboard, it's the one that's kind of the green-yellow-red function (Fig. 1) where if we go below six days on-hand supply, it turns yellow. If we go below three days on-hand it turns red. That was just a really great visual cue and I have to say that we maybe had 10 times where it went red, the rest has been pretty much all green. It really helped us focus on what we needed to procure and source. I'll make one more statement in regard to that. California just sent us an assembly bill and it states by April 15th, 2021, as a health care organization, we need to provide to the State that we have at least 90 days on hand of the different PPE that they're asking us to have, based on 2019's highest seven consecutive days of usage.”
“So, I asked Gerry and Chris to help me with that and they were able to go back into the database and pull for each of our different PPE categories what they were able to rank the highest seven days of consecutive usage. We have already built that required report with BlueBin's help and I have been able to provide that to my CFO. We're in good shape and out ahead of the curve,” concluded Clark.
While no one can control when a crisis or pandemic will happen and how the market will respond, supply chain management teams do have options. Here are a few things your team can do to prepare for future disruptions:
Good quality supply chain data enables supply chain teams to foresee opportunities and gaps ahead of a crisis, just as much as it allows them to take informed action when the unexpected happens. Now is the time to resolve supply chain and inventory management gaps and identify value-added partners so that you can fix the problem of enterprise supply distribution and sustain long-term savings and standard work over time.