warehouse automation

The Patient-Centric Supply Chain

The importance of a patient-centric supply chain

It is not that likely that you have heard of a patient-centric supply chain before. If you have, congratulations! If not, it is not really your fault. We often talk about patient-centric care in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, but the idea of having a supply chain that revolves primarily around the wants and needs of patients is still somewhat foreign. When it comes to serialization and supply chains, the discourse mostly turns to business and economics. Of course, these are important aspects of optimizing a quality supply chain, but there is another component that we would like to tackle in this article.

We have written before on the topic of ethical pharmaceutical practices, and now the time has come to tackle the issue from another angle. However, putting the patient at the forefront of your considerations when building a supply chain strategy has more benefits than simply being morally superior. As we will see later on, there are many pragmatic benefits to businesses that decide to think this way. It seems to be one of those things that is both ethical and effective.

The rise of the patient-centric supply chain

Medical treatments that are produced in large quantities have transformed human health, significantly lowering mortality and enhancing the quality of life for billions of people. Infant mortality has fallen, infectious disease deaths have decreased, and once-lethal chronic ailments like diabetes have become treatable thanks to widespread medical interventions.

The emergence of cell and gene therapies in recent years has contributed to the rise of customized medications, or treatments that are specially designed for a single patient. Such therapies require highly organized and resilient supply chains due to their high cost and the accuracy needed to deliver them to the correct patient at the right time.

For any particular ailment, there may also be a large range of therapy alternatives, and patients’ values and preferences need to be increasingly taken into account when choosing a course of action. The healthcare sector, from pharmaceutical suppliers and manufacturing through dispensing endpoints, needs a patient-centric supply chain to be able to treat a patient in accordance with their preferences.


The differences from traditional supply chains 

A supply chain that centres on the patient necessitates certain features that distinguish it from a standard healthcare supply chain. User-centric supply chains make use of advanced tools to precisely record and respond to patient demand signals, in contrast to typical pharmaceutical supply chains, which concentrate on fundamental planning, manufacturing, and shipping of products effectively through their downstream partners. A “digital twin,” or ongoing real-time monitoring of digital data pertaining to supply chain activities and product disposal, is one aspect of this. It enables companies to perceive, monitor, and respond to shifts in demand more quickly than with conventional techniques.

Business achievement in supply chains that are patient-focused should be based on generating outcomes that ultimately benefit patients in addition to conventional corporate outcomes. For instance, in a supply chain that is truly focused on the needs of the patient, timely and complete delivery to a trading partner further down the supply chain would not be a complete or acceptable indicator of success if a subsequent disruption prevented the product from reaching the patient when and where it was needed.

In order to accomplish real-time visibility and data sharing, patient-centric supply chains need a number of enabling characteristics, such as a digital supply network of connected trading partners, secure, standardized data, and digital network platform apps.

The importance of digitalization

To enable real-time data sharing among trading partners, user-centric supply chains rely on interconnected supply chain networks that span the whole healthcare supply chain. Without a digital transformation of the supply chain, data is frequently compartmentalized between businesses or even inside enterprise systems, impeding the actionable visibility that is a key component of patient-centric supply chains. Digital technology has made it possible to trace and monitor the supply chain, enabling supply chains that put the patient in the spotlight.

Impact on patient adherence

The problem of patient adherence is one of the most significant concerns in the healthcare industry. Many people with chronic illnesses do not take their medications as directed by their doctors. The problem has severe negative health effects. This condition also results in a waste of resources as well as a rise in expenditures. If products or services are produced without taking into account patient requirements and priorities, patient adherence is likely to stay very low.

On the other hand, services created by taking into account the patient’s priorities, needs, and direction will boost patient involvement and adherence. Manufacturers are conscious of the necessity to focus on output in the modern world, but they are unclear about the optimum patient outcome. By putting patients’ needs at the centre of business initiatives and treating them like partners in the enterprise, even more success can be attained.

Thus, only a truly patient-centric supply chain and approach can ensure optimal health outcomes for the majority of the population. It is quite possible that, in the near future, pharma businesses looking to supercharge their results will focus on personalizing their services. It can already be seen in certain situations across the world.


Will trying to make my supply chain patient-centric bankrupt my business?

Supply chains that are focused on the needs of the patient are created to guarantee that the correct patient has access to the right medication at the right time. The patient-centric supply chain uses the digitization of product data to save money in a number of ways, such as improved inventory visibility and management, higher patient safety through the availability of medications, and a safer recall process.

It should not come as a surprise that having information on exactly what kind of medicine is in demand will make a pharma business’ operations more efficient. Making the global supply chain more patient-centric will benefit both patients and companies alike.


Paving the way forward

Now that you have read and hopefully understood the information we have regarding this emerging type of supply chain, you should be able to see the potential for the transformation of pharma businesses. What is more, when we were talking about the issues with creating a truly global supply chain, we mentioned how it is not easy to standardize the parameters and requirements to which such a supply chain would adhere. However, perhaps it is precisely the patient which should be put in the focus of designing the compliance demands of tomorrow, as is already the case with many countries.


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