By the time COVID-19 arrived in the United States, global supply chains were already buckling under a historic level of demand. For most individuals, the pandemic has been the first broadly sustained supply chain disruption of their lifetime. As consumers rushed to hoard hand sanitizer, toilet paper and even baking yeast, healthcare providers scrambled to secure personal protection equipment (PPE), ventilators, and other supplies critical to treating patients.
The hoarding and stockpiling of goods coupled with the increase in true demand meant traditional healthcare suppliers found themselves in unanticipated backorder situations rationing inventory. This, in turn, pushed providers to vet and source critical supplies from new vendors. There has been tremendous innovation from the healthcare industry during the past year. Many manufacturers responded to the crisis by retooling or expanding production lines, including Honeywell, General Motors, 3M, and GE Healthcare, among others. Within months, in-vitro diagnostic manufacturers developed COVID-19 test kits with elapsed times for results reduced from days. The market has also seen new entrants, from decontamination systems and ventilator parts and accessories to remote patient monitoring solutions. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received hundreds of emergency use authorization applications from manufacturers across the globe in response to the pandemic, many of which the agency has approved.
What's encouraging is that COVID-19 has accelerated greater levels of collaboration among manufacturers, distributors, and providers in a short period of time. As the world continues to battle the pandemic, and the U.S. healthcare market continues its transformation to a value-based model, there's opportunity for both traditional and new manufacturers to play a leading role based on lessons learned during this trying period.
Automated Business Processes Strengthen Partnerships
COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future. To take advantage of new opportunities, drive innovation, and extend new relationships, automating business processes will be key to winning over providers. The rapid pace at which COVID-19 spread required an agile, nimble response. Now, more than ever, there's a premium placed on suppliers with whom it's easy to do business. New entrants to the supplier ecosystem must invest in end-to-end, order-to-cash automation, reducing touches and errors. Moving forward, manufacturers that make it easy to transact business will become preferred vendors.
Shifts in Demand Is Part of the 'New Normal'
Demand for certain supplies, particularly PPE, will remain high for some time. As...