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July 16, 2015
Replacing the traditional life sciences supply chain with a patient-centric model
By: Roddy Martin

Patient data and analytics, improved supply strategies and cloud technology can help companies keep up with emerging industry challenges and opportunities.

As technologies enable rapid advancements and patients’ needs change, the traditional life sciences supply chain can no longer keep up with the emerging challenges and opportunities of the industry. Costs and inventory levels are up, regulatory controls are broadening, competition has increased and the pressure to expand into emerging markets is building.

On the pharma side of the house, it’s not the same old, small-molecule kind of chemically-based industry anymore. Patient therapies have grown increasingly complex, involving a convergence between products and services, and between different players within the healthcare value chain. Patient-centric therapies and personalized medicine are on the rise.

Add it all up and it means that the traditional supply chain model must evolve.

In contrast to traditional supply chain models, a patient-centric model senses and shapes demand across the healthcare ecosystem at a granular level—translating patient and treatment data into insights, patterns and signals that indicate what supply-side products and services are needed, when and where. This kind of network requires new levels of integration between the supply chain organization and commercial and financial processes.

To create a patient-centric value network, companies must design end-to-end fulfillment strategies and processes to ensure that products and services are delivered in a timely, safe and compliant manner into different markets. In order to achieve overall fulfillment strategies that ensure improved patient outcomes and business profitability, companies must use: appropriate network designs and inventory management strategies, flow path analyses, forecasting methods and analytics, replenishment processes, Big Data and predictive analytics, and transportation services.

Life sciences companies looking to implement a patient-centric value network should focus on several key factors and activities:

  • Look for and translate the insights that improve patient outcomes. Supply chain leaders invest wisely in the collection of critical data, and integration with partners, suppliers and customers to share plans and information that allows everyone across the end-to-end system to collaborate and plan more effectively.
  • Establish supply strategies to ensure predictable, compliant and secure supply when and where the patients need it. Risk management and market strategies should include an appropriate level of redundancy and supplier interchangeability. Inbound and outbound transportation and materials management processes should then be architected to ensure materials and products are in the right place at the right time and can be tracked for product safety and compliance.
  • Put in place a cloud-based control tower to enable end-to-end visibility and analytics across the value network and ensure that products and services are efficiently delivered to the patient. A cloud-based platform enables the integration of suppliers, contract manufacturers, a company’s own manufacturing sites, logistics partners, distributors, and customer-facing entities.

Along with these activities, life sciences companies will also need to:

  • Connect market insights and patient outcomes back to commercial and financial processes.
  • Connect commercial and financial processes through integrated business planning, into the supply planning network including contract manufacturers, suppliers and contrast research.
  • Plan for digitization and for the Internet of Things (IoT), where many devices, processes and assets can be connected into the digital value network for analytics purposes.
  • Upgrade skills, talent and organization structure based on the state of process maturity of the evolving, end-to-end supply chain.
  • Manage the significant organizational changes involved to ensure take-up of new processes and new ways of working.

Building a patient-centric supply chain will not be easy. But for companies willing to make the effort, a focus on patients’ needs and wants can spark new kinds of products, devices and treatments and ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.

To learn more, download the report: Push to Pull: From Supply Chains to Patient-Centric Value Networks

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