By Erin Cristales, Vizient
It’s been, to put it mildly, an exhausting 26 months for those dedicated to ensuring patients receive exactly what they need for top-quality care. This year has brought little relief as providers battle everything from the continuing aftershocks of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict to labor shortages and temporary and complete closures of key manufacturing facilities around the globe. To use a word that’s become ubiquitous, it’s been an unprecedented turn of events.
For Kevin Johns, Vizient’s senior director of supply assurance and leader of a five-person team dedicated to helping members alleviate supply chain pain points, that ever-growing list isn’t a catalyst for burnout — it's the inspiration for light bulb moments. The individual disruptions may be unique, but his question is always the same: What can we do differently to ensure our members make it through?
The emphasis, he says, is on “we.” There’s no problem too big to tackle when your organization sizes it up from every conceivable angle.
"When a disaster hits, we have experts in their different areas of the business who bring incredible insights,” Johns said. “We want to be the megaphone for those insights.”
Across Vizient, experts are working to give members a predictive, holistic view of the supply chain. One Chief Supply Chain Officer recently told Johns that the best gift is time — each day of advance notice regarding a disruption can save hospital leaders as much as a week of extra work.
“We want to give our members that gift,” Johns said. “What can we do to help you predict and understand these situations so that your teams can manage them? That’s really where our message is different — we’re joining together to empower, guide and equip our members through insights, access, enablement and advocacy.”
Insights: Bolstering informed decision making
Better supply assurance hinges on communicating what's currently happening — and what’s about to. Vizient offers insights via numerous resources designed to inform members about pressing supply chain issues, including:
- Executive Briefs: Members can access summaries of upcoming and previous supply assurance strategies webinars, which are scheduled through December 2022.
- Critical Supply Profiles: These new profiles help members proactively plan for potential supply chain disruptions in product categories affected by constraints in the market. Each profile provides insights on manufacturing, logistics and utilization. (You can access them under the “Critical Supply Profiles” tab in the “Member Resources” section.)
- Budget Impact Projections Report and Manufacturing Insights Briefs: The Budget Impact Projections report features Vizient's price change projections on medical supplies, equipment and purchased services. In addition, it contains detailed trends and forecasts on more than 30 raw materials and indexes. The Manufacturing Insights Briefs provide frequent updates on raw materials.
- Contract News: These news articles, which can be found in the Vizient Catalog, focus on new contracts and contracts influenced by market factors (subscribe here).
- Disaster Preparedness: The webpage features information on supply disruptions due to natural disasters, international conflicts, product recalls and more.
- Pharmacy Market Outlook: This report, developed by Vizient pharmacy experts, is a comprehensive review of pharmacy inflationary rate projections, as well as industry challenges and market shifts impacting both drug prices and product access.
- Pharmacy Hot Info: This weekly email to participants in Vizient’s Pharmacy Program offers pharmaceutical contract insights and clinical information (subscribe here). And Pharmacy Sourcing Forum is a monthly member call that also focuses on those topics.
- Verified Rx: Spearheaded by the Vizient Center for Pharmacy Practice Excellence, the podcast delivers short doses of insight for hospitals’ frontline pharmacists.
- Essential Medications Quarterly Report: In this report, Vizient pharmacy experts identify essential medications where, if not available, would prove the greatest threat to a hospital’s ability to provide immediate and high-quality patient care.
- Vizient Pharmacy Solutions: This webpage features a plethora of information about drug shortages, including alerts and mitigation strategies.
Access: Enhancing assurance through strategic programs
A major part of Vizient’s supply assurance strategy, Johns said, involves strategic programs that enable consistent access to the supplies members need, particularly during a shortage situation. Programs such as Novaplus Enhanced Supply — a part of Novaplus, the industry’s longest-running private label program — delivers additional inventory of essential medications and products, including PPE (the program recently added three new categories). The Supplier Diversity Program supports the development of minority-, woman-, disability-, LGBT- and veteran-owned business enterprises that meet high-quality standards, bolstering economic development and supply access in members’ own communities. And Vizient’s recently announced Made in the U.S.A. program is focused on enhancing supply assurance for members by improving visibility of domestic manufacturing in its contract portfolio.
Enablement: Creating connections to insights and access
Enablement, Johns said, is all about Vizient’s unique position as a conduit between suppliers and providers, pointing them to the specific, near real-time insights and access that will most effectively support their individual needs when a disruption occurs.
“We’re committed to providing members the information they need, whether that’s conservation strategies or assistance identifying alternative sources,” he said. “And we’ll support them in making the decision that’s best for them.”
That includes monthly supply assurance webinars that focus on leading practices to assist members with supply chain assurance and resiliency strategies, and pharmacy supply trends and market insights webinars that delve into drug pricing, market dynamics and industry trends. And Vizient is partnering with to enable mapping to geographic locations of supplier manufacturing and distribution sites, conducting 24/7 incident monitoring and risk assessment.
Advocacy: Addressing long-term solutions through collaboration
Advocacy is critical to Vizient’s strategy in addressing healthcare supply shortages, and those efforts include collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and Health and Human Services. Developing relationships has proven crucial, as increased transparency and collaboration are key to long-term supply assurance solutions. Learn more about how Vizient is amplifying members' voices to U.S. policymakers.
Most recently, Vizient joined the Healthcare Industry Resilience Collaborative (HIRC), a nonprofit healthcare supply chain association that champions standards and best practices in supply chain resiliency. Vizient’s efforts will include a focus on resiliency score-carding, data and analytics, and sourcing expertise. “HIRC’s focus on enhanced transparency and supply assurance is something we absolutely want to be a part of,” Johns said.
Also this month, Vizient announced a partnership with RISCS, Inc. to create a joint pilot program aimed at boosting assurance of pharmaceutical supply. Once implemented, the program will use a rating system to enable the evaluation of critical aspects of a resilient supply chain and provide increased transparency.
Additionally, Vizient is a founding member of the End Drug Shortages Alliance, an independent group of industry stakeholders that includes providers, manufacturers, distributors and other industry thought leaders and champions. Efforts are focused on improving access to medications through greater transparency across market participants, leading to improved quality manufacturing of medications and production of additional supply.
“This is us saying it takes a village,” Johns said. “That’s why we’re creating deeper relationships and more robust communications across the board — we want to continue to grow that connectivity so that we have the avenues to really address issues and increase the resiliency of the supply chain.”
To learn more about Vizient’s supply assurance efforts, visit vizientinc.com/supply-assurance.