3 Steps to a Smarter Medtech Supply Chain

By Alex Klim and George Marinos, PA Consulting

In a post-COVID-19 environment, the medical technology industry has a huge opportunity to make its supply chains “smarter”. Most organizations involved in healthcare, including medical technology, are increasingly collecting data at different stages of a patient’s journey and using it to drive better outcomes. Take diabetes management, for example; The technology is used to monitor glucose levels, calculate and track insulin dosage data, run algorithms that predict needs and behaviors, and trigger alerts for the provider, caregiver, or patient to take action. .

Until now, medical technology companies have focused on the therapeutic benefits of the devices. And the devices have become more and more technologically advanced from a therapeutic point of view. Now, companies need to recognize the supply chain value that can come from the data capabilities of modern medical technology devices. Because their products are technologies, medical technology companies are uniquely positioned to continue to collect more and more data through the use of their products; this creates an opportunity to make the most of digital technologies to improve supply chain performance.

And it comes at a time when climate change and resource scarcity, economic uncertainties, geopolitical challenges and logistics pose significant risks to global supply chains. Ensuring supply chains are protected, reliable and adaptable is essential – and new technologies such as IoT sensors capable of relaying real-time data throughout the supply chain are essential to achieve this. these goals. Our research reveals that this is a challenge that many organizations face: the will is there, but people are not convinced that they will succeed.

Medtech companies need to develop a vision that aligns smart supply chain initiatives with their strategic goals so they can establish appropriate levels of investment. They must understand the value opportunity and work in an agile manner to ensure they scale quickly to adopt and scale technology. Medtech companies need to take three main steps to make their supply chains smarter: design smarter supply chains, sync the supply chain with patient journeys, and enrich supply chain data .

1. Designing smarter supply chain solutions in product design

Data should be a key part of product design from the start. But you need to think about more than collecting data to monitor health conditions and product performance. You also need to incorporate smart supply chain strategies into your product design to leverage all the potential benefits.

For example, IoT sensors in products can be used for remote patient monitoring that supports the consumable and therapeutic side of the supply chain. In addition to ensuring that patients receive effective treatment and the right supplements at the right time (such as insulin needles), these sensors also enable ongoing predictive or rapid-response maintenance. There may be an opportunity to use anonymized data to adjust doses of the associated drug. For data to be truly optimized, you need to capture demand closer to the source, such as directing consumables associated with a device directly or as close to a patient as possible.

We have worked with Sure Chill on cold storage to help transport vaccines and medicines to the most remote areas of the world. Beyond the initial success of water and solar-powered cooling technology and its credentials for portability and durability, the cooler is also connected. This provides essential information on the status of vaccines and determines whether units have been opened and closed or whether units have been abandoned. All of this reduces the deterioration of vaccines, prolongs their lifespan and saves more lives.

2. Synchronize the supply chain with patient journeys

Healthcare facilities collect a lot of data that could be relevant to the supply chain, but for that information to be useful, you need to direct the right data to the right place at the right time. That’s why it’s important to sync your supply chain with patient journeys, which are much more connected and agile than traditional point-of-need ‘orders’.

For example, the materials and equipment needed for a first appointment with a patient can be prepared in advance, a range of products for the follow-up appointment will be prepared in advance and, depending on the outcome and next steps, another treatment plan can populate the inventory made available or sent to the patient at the specific time. This data creates a two-way street: supply chain data can be synchronized to provide ongoing support for clinical trials or to provide post-market insights.

3. Ensure that additional data enriches the supply chain

Since healthcare is already a data-rich environment, adding more data is only useful when it truly enriches the supply chain. Think about data points that bring new insights, like the ability to add additional resiliency to the supply chain.

For example, traditional delivery time data could be combined with temperature data and shock data, creating detailed insight into common logistics issues and patterns. By analyzing this data, it can help predict when outages might occur, enabling preventive and mitigating actions.

Unilever is taking this approach to help protect employees while maintaining product supply for the world’s 2.5 billion consumers. He has created a leading predictive tool that is used daily to manage supply chain operations and enables Unilever to manage the security and resilience of its sites, assess supply chain impacts and to make longer-term strategic decisions.

Dealing with Disruption and Change

By exploring all opportunities for data collection, analysis and communication, medical technology companies will succeed in realizing their strategically designed visions for an intelligent supply chain. Legacy supply chains that take advantage of the opportunities that increased live data can provide will better cope with disruption and change.

About the authors:

Alex Klim is a digital supply chain expert at PA Consulting. He has worked with a range of medical technology, pharmaceutical and healthcare provider organizations and led global transformation projects. He specializes in supply chain visibility, systems integration, and producing real-time, data-driven insights.

George Marinos is a supply chain and operations expert at PA Consulting. He leads PA Consulting’s digital supply chain proposition and works with medical technology companies to help them harness digital technologies and innovation to improve their supply chains and broader operations.

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