A Guide to Helping Buyers of Medical Supplies

by Caleb Tiam-Lee

Robust healthcare systems involve the efficient and quick movement of medical supplies to buyers. With proper regulations in place, it ensures that patients will be able to be attended to with the utmost care, allowing for medical professionals to cure them of diseases that are affecting their body. As the state of public health in the country has been constantly emphasized, ensuring strong supply chains transform public health, supporting disease prevention, control, and response.

However, the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to volatility in the medical device market, causing a reality check for buyers in sourcing objectives. Seeing that there is still so much uncertainty with the supply chain, finding alternate sourcing options is the primary need for buyers to stay immune during a medical crisis, which would widen their cost-saving opportunities and develop long-term relationships with suppliers.

Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic

Because of the effects of the uncertainties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, many enterprises are experiencing severe shortages in the market, resulting in production downtime and lowering revenues. Due to the overreliance on China’s supply of medical components such as lithium batteries, the blockage of most of the supply channels led to increases in the production price.

Though resorting to other options may pose risks and cause new supply chain disruptions, turning to alternative ideas to secure the supply of important medical goods is important in achieving the public health goals.

Public Health in Asia-Pacific Region

In connection with the pandemic, the Asia-Pacific Region experiences vulnerability to the threat of emerging communicable diseases – particularly zoonotic diseases, properly integrated supply systems to quickly and reliably source and distribute diagnostics and medical goods strengthens disease detection and response systems to medical emergencies. Moreover, with the demand for world-class health care increasing in the Asia-Pacific region, the calls for stronger regulatory oversight in ensuring that the quality of products is not compromised with the heightened supply. With proper systems in place, it ensures that out-of-pocket expenditures for patients go down, as over fifty-percent (50%) of the spending is out-of-pocket, with around half of the expenditures put on medicines and drugs for patients. Apart from this, this also protects patients from substandard or counterfeit medicines, as globally seventy-eight percent (78%) of counterfeit antibiotics are made, with forty-four percent (44%) of those consumed, giving a false sense of hope to families. In addition, more fake medical supplies such as gloves, masks, and other consumable products are circling around the market. Improving this aspect of public health ensures that proper health outcomes are achieved, as people can access better medicines.

Alternate Sourcing Options

With the COVID-19 situation in the world not yet fully resolved, resorting to planned contingencies and secondary solutions to address certain medical emergencies is necessary in maintaining sufficient public capacity. Despite the worsening market health, it safeguards the business as well, seeing that there are back-ups in light of the current pandemic.

As a result, turning and engaging with multiple suppliers on inventory planning for medical goods will result in adequate availability of certain medical goods in times of crisis. Especially for companies that have invested and strengthened their information management systems, this helps in plotting accurate and timely inventory data to inform budgeting, procurement, inventory management, and distribution processes. Moreover, they are also capable of managing resourcing more efficiently, as these systems provide real-time information which enables health managers to understand the supply of goods, further improving disease prevention in the process.

Moreover, assessing the suppliers production capabilities and overall flexibility is an important step in the procurement of medical supplies. Analyzing the production capacity with the aim of gauging lead times for delivery and part replacements is integral in times of medical crisis, as lower supply of medical goods lead to greater pressure for doctors and nurses in healthcare centers. With this in mind, taking note of several factors such as proximity and logistics capabilities of the suppliers will ensure the uninterrupted supply of medical components to their facilities.

Risk Mitigation in Supply Chain

At the end of the day, weighing in the countless different factors are important in ensuring that patients are properly attended to. In relying on countless forms of data, while creating numerous contingencies for all suppliers in the chain, this ensures that measures are in place to identify a certain issue before it becomes a major problem.