By Perry Fri, Executive Vice President, Industry Relations, Membership and Education, HDA; Chief Operating Officer, HDA Research Foundation; and former Chairman of Healthcare Ready’s Board of Directors
Among the many lessons we learned as a nation from the catastrophic damage and tragic loss of lives following Hurricane Katrina, was the stark reality of the weak links that were present, yet undiscovered, in the U.S. healthcare supply chain. Ways to deliver critical medications, get patients to healthcare facilities, and reach those in need in the storm’s chaotic aftermath simply didn’t exist. It soon became clear that public and private partnerships would need to be developed to strengthen our healthcare supply chain and ensure that the exposed inefficiencies of that seminal crisis would never happen again. It called for an organization like Healthcare Ready to step up and step in.
I was proud to be in New Orleans when we launched Healthcare Ready (then known as Rx Response) in 2007 as a nonprofit, non-partisan organization. My organization, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), represents the primary pharmaceutical distributors, which serve as the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and others nationwide. Along with the other sectors in the healthcare supply chain, HDA and our members had a vested interest in ensuring communities around the nation could become more resilient in the face of increasingly active hurricane and wildfire seasons, and it is why Healthcare Ready continues to play a key role today.
Healthcare Ready’s mission focuses on increasing community responsiveness and planning during disasters. It’s been a privilege to watch the small and tenacious organization grow in its role of creating critical public private partnerships, increasing transparency, and helping to strengthen our healthcare supply chain. What sets Healthcare Ready apart from other nonprofits — a trade association, like HDA, or even a professional society — is that the organization acts as a conduit between the public and private healthcare sectors during emergencies. Healthcare Ready can seamlessly work with industry and the public sector to and execute with efficiency. With natural disasters and other crisis events on the rise, Healthcare Ready leverages its partnerships to help ensure a resilient healthcare supply chain, and ultimately, so that patients are not adversely affected by catastrophes like our country faced through Katrina more than a decade ago.
Healthcare Ready’s impact has been felt by many over the years. In addition to their incredible, national response to the pandemic over the past two years, they also play a key problem-solving role. For example, when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, Healthcare Ready was able to use their relationships and connections with their contacts on the ground to get a planeload of products to an HDA distributor member based on the island, so the company could in turn pass on those lifesaving items, such as medications or personal protective equipment, to their customers.
As we look to the next 15 years, Healthcare Ready’s impact will continue to be felt throughout the country as it continues to serve as a trusted voice in the industry, links the public and private sectors, and ensures that all communities are able to withstand these life-changing events.