Healthcare Supply Chain

From Kanban systems and the hardware to build them, coupled with software solutions to order and manage your inventory, BlueBin has the tools you need to manage your healthcare supply chain efficiently.

Supply chain is a term many people have been hearing quite a lot about since 2020. A supply chain is the network of individuals, companies, resources, activities, and technologies used to make and sell a product or service.[1]

Healthcare is an area where the supply chain was hit particularly hard. Since the start of the pandemic in 2019, nearly every hospital across the country has reported supply chain issues. And 4 out of 5 experienced supply shortages, putting strain on an already taxed system.

Since then, a call has gone out to improve the resilience of supply chains to mitigate the risks of a situation like this occurring again.



What is the Healthcare Supply Chain?

The healthcare supply chain encompasses the management of three different flows within a given institution. These are:

  1. Product or supplies
  2. Information often related to but not exclusive to the products
  3. Money or the financials across multiple trading partners

You can see from the illustration below (fig. 1) how these flows occur in a healthcare environment.

healthcare supply chain flow

Fig. 1 Healthcare supply chain flow

Healthcare Supply Chain Solutions

Actionable Insights

BlueQ Analytics

Provides the critical information you need to make impactful, data-driven decision with unparalleled visibility.

Ordering & Receiving

BlueQ SmartScan

Streamlined supply ordering & handheld functionality far exceeding those offered by your hospital’s ERP.

Visual Replenishment

BlueBin Kanban

More efficient & cost-effective Kanban with the added benefits of BlueBin’s proven system and expertise.

Expert Assistance

Supply Chain Consulting

BlueBin experts have been delivering exceptional results in hospital supply chain & logistics for decades.



Why Healthcare Supply Chain Matters

Supply chain matters because it is an area where significant value can be created in a healthcare institution. Establishing value can come through the cost of providing care for individuals, aimed at achieving the best possible outcome, which supports the desired financial results of patient outcomes.

Supply Chain creates significant value through:

  • Cost reduction
  • Increased revenue
  • Improved service
  • Reduced risk
  • Improved clinical outcomes
  • Improved productivity
  • Incubates innovation

According to the American Hospital Association, the supply chain can be responsible for over 41% of a hospital’s no-payroll expenditures.



Healthcare Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management (SCM) is the planning and management of all activities involved in:

  • Sourcing and procurement
  • Conversion, all logistics management activities
  • Coordination and collaboration with channel partners



Healthcare Supply Chain Functions

Strategic Sourcing

The process of determining the products to buy, where to buy them, and from whom. Strategic sourcing focuses on:

  • Improvement, re-evaluating suppliers
  • Establishing purchasing budgets
  • Negotiation with suppliers
  • Periodic assessments or audits of transactions
  • Evaluating and selecting suppliers which meet the combined needs of the buying organization

Sourcing is the Hub in the decision-making process for the supply chain. They lead the supplier selection and product selection process while helping the organization set priorities in their focus areas.

Strategic sourcing also is responsible for engaging all stakeholders across clinical, legal/compliance, IT, payor, supply chain, finance, etc. They bring facts and data to eliminate bias amongst stakeholders and to:

  • Facilitate debate among stakeholders
  • Educate on TCO [Total Cost of Ownership]
  • Empower others to sign contracts
  • Enable contract lifecycle management
  • Enable supplier collaboration


After sourcing, selecting a supplier, and entering the contract into the system, buying or purchasing is the next function step. Buyers are responsible for the acquisition of the required materials, services, and equipment that have been sourced in the previous function.

  1. Requisition PO Processing
  2. Supplier scheduling
  3. Receipt processing
  4. Item master/content management
  5. Catalog management
  6. Contract master management


Receiving and logistics is the process that plans, implements, and controls the flow of goods and services between the point of origin and point of consumption, to meet the customer’s requirements


Pretty straightforward here, Accounts Payable processes invoices that come in from suppliers for goods and services.

Program Management

The last component of the supply chain is program management. Simply put, this defines which programs within an organization the supply chain is tasked to manage.



Healthcare Supply Chain Framework


In order for any supply chain to be successful, there needs to be an alignment in vision amongst several areas of the hospital. These four infrastructure elements need to be in sync:

  • C-suite – Vision, mission, values
  • Service Delivery Model – Governance
  • Planning – Goal alignment
  • Policies, procedures, and guidelines


To create a reliable and robust supply chain, you must have leaders on your team that will attract, develop, and retain the best talent for your organization.

Risk Management

Supply chain visibility is the overarching key to success in risk management. Visibility into the inner workings will allow for better:

  • Business continuity
  • Supply chain risk management
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Supply chain resiliency

One of the ways to increase visibility and reduce risk is through the use of technology platforms that help you manage the business:

  • ERP
  • P2P Suites
  • Analytics
  • Supplier management
  • Travel and expenses
  • Forecasting
  • Budget

Continuous Improvement

Synonymous with process, continuous improvement simply means always improving. Processes are documented, continuously improve these processes, add value-added rigor, and eliminate wasteful activities over time.

This can be an employee-led, ongoing effort to promote incremental improvements, frequently referred to as Kaizen. While it requires a commitment to building a culture, it applies to processes, products, services, and technology.

Change Management

The importance of leading change cannot be understated. It may take time and effort, but with the right methodology, you can help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately.

John Kottler’s Leading Change Model is one example of this. The eight steps are as follows:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build a guiding coalition
  3. Form a strategic vision and initiative
  4. Enlist a volunteer army
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

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Contact us today to ask about our solutions for healthcare supply chain!