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Expect the Unexpected in Hospital Supply Chain Operations

Useful tips to help prevent holiday disruptions
05/31/18

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By:

Jeff Solarek, Senior Consultant, Supply Chain Operations

It’s almost a given that no matter how smoothly your hospital supply chain runs during normal operating hours, there is always some hiccup that occurs on those “non-normal” days. Surviving those times requires one thing: preparation. With up to seven holidays and long weekends per year, a lack of preparation and planning can easily create issues with customer service.

To help you prepare your supply chain department for possible holiday disruptions, I’m sharing a list that I’ve found extremely useful in my own preparations.

Three weeks before:

  1. Contact your primary suppliers to see what back-up plans they provide. Request a key contact list with cell phone numbers. Also, confirm that holiday shipping is available.
  2. Check to see if your local courier will be open and available during your holiday hours. Ensure that your administrative officers know how to contact them.
  3. FedEx has custom critical delivery service. Do you have an account and contact information?
  4. Determine if any equipment planning, such as acquisition of new equipment or repair of existing, will be required. If so, make arrangements to have it resolved prior to the holiday.

Two weeks before:

  1. Meet with staff members who are specifically scheduled to work on the holiday and review plans. Have all possible risks for disruption been considered? Is your staff prepared to be responsive or just reactive?

One week before:

  1. Provide a refresher tour of the storeroom for administrative officers and nurse managers working during the holiday.
  2. Ensure that they have contact information for key supply chain personnel, can access the warehouse and know how to document inventory issues.
  3. Assess your days-on-hand settings, which may need a one-time adjustment of additional inventory for the holiday. Remember that changing days-on-hand settings may also require temporary adjustments on supply carts as well as in the storeroom.

Three days before:

  1. Check the weather forecast to see if any extreme weather is anticipated. If a Level 3 weather emergency is called (roadways closed to non-emergency personnel), ensure that employees know to show their hospital badge at roadblocks.
  2. Walk your supply aisles. Sometimes you can spot gaps in inventory that need attention. Be particularly mindful of patient-critical inventory.

One day before:

  1. Convene a final huddle with your key staff who will be working on the holiday or will be on call.

Following these simple steps ahead of any upcoming holiday can help to ensure that you and your staff enjoy the time away with family and friends, knowing you have a well-prepared and agile supply chain that can handle the unexpected.  

About the author. In his role as senior consultant, Jeff Solarek provides guidance, mentoring and leadership to member organizations to help transform their supply chain operations to leading-practice performance levels. With more than 30 years of supply chain experience in technology, steel, electronics and health care, Solarek has garnered eight supply chain certifications: CPSM, APP and CPM from the Institute of Supply Chain Management; CPCM from the National Contract Management Association; CPIM and CIRM from the American Production and Inventory Control Society; and CMRP, along with a fellowship, from the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management.

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