A team of researchers at Arizona State University have depicted supply chain teams in the most advanced health care systems in the US as Fully Integrated Supply Chain Organizations (FISCOs). These organizations are characterized by strong clinical engagement where product standardization programs are part of the culture. This requires a clinical and administrative staff who are fully aware of, appreciate, and are committed to the process and recognize the connection of the value of the process to their mission. This is more than just a clinically focused supply chain; this becomes a clinically DRIVEN supply chain.
FISCOs are characterized by standardization working groups where evaluation is made, based in large part, on impact on clinical pathways and market research, evaluation of vendor/sources, evaluation of vendor products, risk management review, product decision, contracting if applicable; compliance metrics gathered and reported. In the most progressive of these organizations, patient outcomes are monitored, and compliance or deviation form clinical pathway is determined. If warranted a re-evaluation of the clinical pathway is made and modified as necessary.
Achieving this state of performance is not an easy task. It requires not just the mission and vision for a clinically integrated organization but investments in the key human resources and technologies critical for success. On the human resource side, one finds, as discussed previously in this blog, a very strong role for physician engagement, leadership, and guidance for the supply chain staff.
While it is not necessary (but desirable) for physicians and other senior clinicians to have a direct employment link to the supply chain effort, a corporate governance system that recognizes and rewards such efforts is critical. More complex is the technology needed to progress to a mature FISCO – which can include an organization’s utilization of machine learning and artificial intelligence to assess the key relationships between clinical practice and the materials environment. In future blogs we will examine a number of these technologies and their deployment.