What ASC leaders should know about supply chain in 2020

Rachel Popa - Print  |

From drug shortages to the influence of Amazon, here are three key supply chain trends to know for 2020:

1. Top challenges. Drug shortages and back orders of injectable drugs will be key supply chain challenges for ASCs, according to Michael Einhorn, president of Dealmed, an independent medical supplier.

"Create a list of all drugs and injectables and pre-plan alternatives for each product. In the event of a shortage, you will already have established a list of alternatives with pre-negotiated prices, eliminating expensive, unplanned emergency purchases," Mr. Einhorn advised.

Higher supply costs and more competition among ASCs also will challenge ASC operators.

2. Key opportunities. ASCs can control costs by composing bundles with distributors, implementing a digital supply chain management system and partnering with external management companies, increasing and enhancing an ASC's business.

"We have seen ASCs attempt to adapt various software solutions for better managing inventory and supply spend. What we also see is ASCs becoming more reliant on just-in-time delivery services and requesting access to view real-time inventory with their suppliers," Mr. Einhorn said.

3. Amazon's influence. ASC leaders told Becker's Amazon could affect the surgery center supply chain.

"For ASCs, two areas that I see savings opportunity for which Amazon is known are in freight and shipping and utilization of generic products," said Prashanth Bala, director of ambulatory surgical centers for Shields Health Care Group. "While Amazon may be a model to consider in the future, until they can provide us a level of service we receive now from our partners, I don't see enough value to make a change."

Carl Natenstedt, CEO of hospital supply chain tech company Z5 Inventory, had another opinion.

"Amazon is a perfect fit for ASCs," said Mr. Natenstedt. "The whole Amazon model is well-suited to deliver and distribute to smaller-sized facilities. Amazon requires a business partner that's agile, which makes ASCs the ideal customer. They're able to make quicker decisions about who gets their business, so they can take advantage of Amazon's offerings."

A survey cited in July by Bloomberg found that fewer hospital supply chain managers purchased supplies through Amazon last year because they thought they could get better discounts from other distributors.

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