Supply Chain Management During a Medical Surge: How Hospitals Can Work Together

by | Apr 1, 2020

imageHealth systems across the country are closely monitoring supplies and shortages caused by the coronavirus, particularly respirators, personal protective equipment (PPE), medications, and sanitizing solutions.

While manufacturers are increasing production to help address the demand, hospitals need efficient ways of working with partners to ensure important resources are reallocated as necessary and available when and where needed.

Monitor closely and redistribute supplies regionally

Many of our customers are closely tracking  supply shortages by using the LiveProcess system to document and share information with their health systems, coalitions, public health agencies and their communities.

An east coast health system emergency management team is using a LiveProcess event log to share state guidance on how to monitor PPE, weekly pharmaceutical supply chain updates from the FDA, and other critical updates from community partners. Within the health system, each hospital posts its own inventory, including any reallocations from the corporate office, and keeps a running log of items needed and items in stock at each facility.

A California emergency healthcare coalition uses LiveProcess to track inventory throughout the county, filling gaps in supplies. As PPE and medical surge equipment is allocated from the coalition warehouse to a participating healthcare facility, all items are logged into LiveProcess to ensure a current count of what the facility is given and what inventory remains available for reallocation.

With LiveProcess, health systems have instant access to critical information about current inventory levels and urgent demand for supplies — and can coordinate distribution of supplies to facilities in need.

Manage locally and share across health systems, coalitions, agencies and partners

LiveProcess scales to manage situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic, because an all-in-one virtual command center allows healthcare facilities to manage the situation locally and share globally across health systems, and with coalitions, public agencies and regional partners.

“This is an area where LiveProcess really sings—in a large-scale crisis and subsequent patient surge,” said a LiveProcess customer in Texas.

Push out the latest CDC guidance, such how to manage hospital supply chain shortfalls

Health systems use LiveProcess to share CDC guidance with employees, such as CDC’s strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 respirators when conventional or contingency capacity strategies are not enough to handle medical surges due to COVID-19. Using LiveProcess to work closely with local or regional health coalitions, public health officials, and other emergency response agencies could help reduce the need for these crisis measures — and keep both patients and healthcare staff safer.

The CDC advised:

  • Using respirators beyond the designated shelf life
  • Using similar respirators that are not NIOSH-approved
  • Prioritizing respirator use based on care activities, distance from the patient, and patient mask use
  • Excluding healthcare providers at high risk for contact with known or suspected COVID-19 patients

The CDC notes that while these strategies are not commensurate with US standards of care, they may have to be considered during brief periods when adequate supplies are not available.

When the CDC issued guidance on interim infection prevention and control to hospitals— including saving respirators for procedures likely to generate respiratory aerosols, prioritizing gowns for high-contact or high-risk care activities, and designating entire units for known or suspected COVID-19 patients to conserve PPE — our customers were able to push the information out to all staff at the same time quickly.

Resources for hospital supply chain management in pandemics

The coronavirus and the healthcare supply chain: What hospitals need to know about N95 masks, drugs and devices (HFMA)

Coronavirus Pushes More Hospitals to Share Data About Inventories of Protective Gear (NPR)

20 stories on how coronavirus has affected the healthcare supply chain (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Latest news and in-depth articles on the healthcare supply chain (Healthcare Finance)

Next steps

Explore more resources for emergency preparedness:

Explore the COVID-19 resource center.

Get a CMS emergency preparedness checklist for healthcare facilities.

Read a customer story about collaboration in a regional healthcare coalition.

Read a customer story about a health system preparing for the 2014 Ebola epidemic.

Learn about 2019 updates to the CMS emergency preparedness rule covering emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) and pandemics.

terry-zysk-100x100Terry Zysk, CEO of LiveProcess, has more than two decades of experience in leading organizations that provide innovative solutions to the healthcare industry.

Request a COVID-19 Response Package for Your Health System

Customer Stories

How Health Systems Use LiveProcess for Emergency Management

How Health Systems Use LiveProcess for Hospital Communication