In the fast-paced world of healthcare, the supply chain plays a fundamental role in ensuring the seamless delivery of essential products and services to patients. However, this intricate web of supply chain management often goes unnoticed until disruptions occur, highlighting the need for clinicians to understand and navigate supply chain challenges effectively.

Kathleen MacMillan, a retired nurse with over 50 years of experience, brings a unique perspective to this discussion. Her recent op-ed sheds light on critical issues such as the impact of supply chain capacity on nurse shortages, healthcare workforce challenges, and the need to advance supply chain resilience.

Understanding the Role of Clinicians in Supply Chain Management

"I think of Health Human Resources as part of the supply chain because they're at the sharp end of the actual delivery of care that requires the products needed to meet the healthcare needs of patients," Kathleen notes, emphasizing the interconnectedness of health workforce management and supply chain capacity to support the demands for patient care.

"For most clinicians, the supply chain is invisible and taken for granted," she remarks. "The only time that people really become aware of supply chain issues is when something is not available." This awareness gap underscores the importance of educating and engaging clinicians in understanding supply chain capacity and its impact on patient care delivery.

Proactive Strategies for Supply Chain Resilience

Kathleen advocates for a shift in supply chain management from strategies focused on lowest cost, to strategies focused on supply resilience. "We need to shift in our thinking from just in time to just in case," she urges, emphasizing the need for proactive strategies to address supply chain disruptions that ensure healthcare services are always supported to meet patient health needs.

"We need to look at this in terms of all these different layers of people in the system," Kathleen emphasizes, highlighting the complexity of supply chain resilience. "You need to know about the supply chain. I know it's invisible, but you need to know about it," she advises, stressing the importance of supply chain awareness among healthcare professionals.

As we navigate the challenges of healthcare supply chain management, collaborative efforts, proactive strategies, and ongoing education are key to strengthening supply chain resilience. Clinicians play a vital role in this ecosystem, bridging the gap between patient care and supply chain capacity that ensures clinicians can deliver health services when and where they are needed to meet patient health needs.

Check out Kathleen's episode here and read her op-ed addressing nurse shortages and healthcare workforce issues here.