The Healthcare Supply Chain & Its Role in a Pandemic
Communities need consistent access to medicines and critical medical supplies, because public health depends on it. That’s always true, but during extraordinary circumstances such as a pandemic, the need becomes urgent. Public health emergencies create significant demands on the health care system. And yet, our health care system is built to withstand the stress.
As COVID-19 showed, a pandemic can strain the supply chain. However, the next pandemic or emergency situation will likely stress the system in different ways. Overpreparing for one kind of situation could leave us vulnerable to something entirely different. Fortunately, we know how to prepare for a swift and strong response, no matter what comes.
What is the healthcare supply chain and how does it adapt during a pandemic?
What is the healthcare supply chain? Think of it as three essential steps: Manufacturing, Distribution, and Delivery. First, the right medicines and supplies must be manufactured – key items such as anti-infectives, antiseptics and protective gear. Then they must be distributed — often in bulk, and often quickly. Finally, they must be delivered to individuals in need.
How does this supply chain successfully adapt during a pandemic? One key to success is flexibility. Manufacturers and suppliers pivot to meet emerging needs, and distributors move supplies to hot spots.
Another key is redundancy. If a manufacturer or distributor goes offline, another can take its place. Globally diverse supply chains offer increased resiliency to help avoid supply disruptions.
Advocates for the biomedical supply chain never stop learning. Each natural disaster, each disease response, teaches us more. The supply chain that ramps up for allergy or flu season is the same system that responds to a natural disaster, terrorist attack or pandemic. It isn’t multiple supply chains, it’s one adaptable system. And it works. Learn how here: