Mass-produced medical treatments have revolutionized human health, dramatically reducing mortality and improving the quality of life for billions of people. Universal medical interventions have reduced infant mortality, decreased deaths from infectious diseases, and have made previously fatal chronic illnesses such as diabetes into manageable conditions.
In recent years, the advent of cell and gene therapies have contributed to the rise of personalized medicines—that is, therapies specifically tailored to a single patient. Given the cost of such therapies and the precision required to deliver it to the right patient at the right time, such medicines require highly orchestrated and resilient supply chains.
Additionally, there may be a wide variety of treatment options for any given condition, and the values and preferences of the patient are increasingly considered when making decisions about treatment. In order to be able to treat a patient according to their wishes, the healthcare industry, from pharma suppliers and manufacturing to dispensing end points, need patient-centric supply chains.
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Healthcare supply chains
In the end-to-end life sciences supply chain, health systems are often the last link in the value chain of large supply networks that produce medical supplies to the patient. Despite the evolution in personalized medicines, much of the healthcare supply chain continues to rely on highly manual processes to track, monitor, and dispense medicines to patients. At all points in the supply chain, increasingly precise supplier management is critical to ensure that medicines are delivered on time, in full, and upstream disruptions can quickly cascade down the healthcare supply chain and create real problems for health systems and patients, including drug shortages. Digitalizing healthcare supply chain management can help health systems more effectively detect supply disruptions, manage inventory, and redistribute medicines across their local networks to prevent negative impact on patients.
The advent of the Drug Supply Chain and Security Act (DSCSA) has driven a number of changes to health supply chain management. Serialization, product verification, and transactional information exchange have vastly improved the safety and security of the healthcare supply chain. But, they have also laid the foundation for the digitalization of the healthcare supply chain in ways that directly contribute to patient-centric care.
For example, digital information exchange across the end-to-end supply chain can transform processes such as drug recalls by enabling manufacturers and dispensing end-points to communicate quickly using shared data and digital processes.
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Although patient-centricity has long been a focus of healthcare supply chains, particularly for health systems and pharmacies that service patients directly, true patient-centricity has been an elusive and abstract goal for much of the pharma supply chain. The advent of personalized medicine and the digitalization of supply chain data, however, is rapidly driving transformation toward patient-centric care. For pharma manufacturers, pushing the supply chain model from the more traditional inside-out to the more transformative outside-in patient-centric model requires that patient demand data is adequately and accurately captured across the supply chain. Product serialization data is a key enabler of this capability, as are advanced analytics, Internet of Things data, and digital supply networks through which information can be stored, transmitted, and accessed quickly and securely.
For dispensers like retail pharmacies and health systems, digitalization can have a direct impact on patient safety by enabling safer and more timely recalls, predicting and preventing drug shortages from impacting patients, and managing inventory levels so that patients have access to the right medicines at the right time.
Effects on the medical supply chain
A patient-centric supply chain requires a number of capabilities that differentiates it from the traditional healthcare supply chain. While traditional pharma supply chains focus on basic planning, manufacturing, and shipping of products efficiently through their downstream partners, patient-centric supply chains harness advanced capabilities to accurately capture and act on patient demand signals. This includes continuous real-time monitoring of digital data related to supply chain events and product disposition, known as a "digital twin," that allows companies to sense, track, and react to changes in demand more quickly than traditional methods.
In patient-centric supply chains, business success should be predicated on successfully achieving outcomes that ultimately serve patients in addition to traditional business outcomes. For example, in a truly patient-centric supply chain, on time, in full delivery to a downstream trading partner would not be a full or adequate measure of success if a subsequent disruption prevents that product from reaching the patient when and where it is needed.
For these reasons, patient-centric supply chains require a number of enabling capabilities, including a digital supply network of interconnected trading partners; secure, standardized data; and digital network platform applications through which real-time visibility and data-sharing can be achieved.
FAQs: How do patient-centric supply chains benefit from the supply chain digital transformation?
How do patient-centric supply chains benefit from the supply chain digital transformation?
Patient-centric supply chains rely on interconnected supply chain networks encompassing the end-to-end healthcare supply chain to share data in real-time among trading partners. Without supply chain digital transformation, data is often siloed between organizations or even within enterprise systems, preventing actionable visibility that is a central tenet of patient-centric supply chains. Being able to track and monitor the supply chain with digital technology has made patient-centric supply chains achievable.
How can patient-centric care save healthcare system resources?
Patient-centric supply chains are designed to ensure that the right medicine is available to the right patient at the right time. Patient-centric healthcare supply chains utilize the digitalization of product data to save resources in a number of ways, including better inventory visibility and management, and increased patient safety through medicine availability and a safer recalls process.
Why wouldn't a hospital supply chain be patient-centric?
Without digitalization, a hospital supply chain cannot fully achieve patient-centricity. A critical component of a patient-centric supply chain is for all supply chain partners to have full and actionable visibility to product data all the way to the patient. If health systems or hospital systems lack the digital infrastructure to receive and transmit data to upstream partners, it can be a major barrier to achieving patient centricity for all stakeholders across that end-to-end value chain.