Leveraging data and digitization to overcome health supply chain disruptions

by | Oct 3, 2022

by Marloes Dijkema-Boyd, PFSCM Digital Media Specialist at PFSCM based in the Netherlands.

Global health supply chains are fast-changing and highly interconnected. As they change, so do the needs of patients, service providers, and other stakeholders. Keeping up with the changing environment can prove challenging, but real-time data visibility and digitization can go a long way in helping supply chain professionals effectively respond to, and plan for constant flux. 

Digitized communities are gaining broader acceptance in global health, and creating data standards and interoperability that improve visibility and respond to change in ever-evolving environments is paramount in absorbing the impact of disruptions.

As part of the digital global health community, supply chain solutions provider, the Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM), has implemented a One Network control tower that provides real-time visibility, digital collaboration, and advanced analytics for true data-driven decision-making. The control tower has helped PFSCM to adapt to changing supply chain environments, especially during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PFSCM Chief Information Officer Chad Davenport explains more about the importance and benefits of data and digitization in health supply chains and elaborates on some of the successes and improvements PFSCM’s control tower has helped it achieve.

For Davenport, data is the lifeblood of any organization, and end-to-end visibility of the data is of extreme value. 

“Data ensures that organizations make decisions based on facts. Without data, it is impossible to see where processes, transactions, or activities are getting stuck, why they are getting stuck, and how to get them unstuck.” 

In addition, he explains that highly interconnected supply chains require clients, suppliers, freight forwarders, and other stakeholders to execute critical roles or actions across each transaction’s life cycle.

“Connecting with partners in a network streamlines processes and drives effective data-sharing and digital collaboration thereby ensuring transactions are executed smoothly.”

Further, he adds that the benefits of PFSCM’s control tower and data-driven approach became even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the pandemic hit we had visibility into every step of the procurement and logistics processes. We were able to quickly adapt to changing market demands and were able to supply our clients with the products they needed, even during periods of severe supply chain disruption.”

Davenport notes that PFSCM achieved 90% on-time delivery across almost 700 COVID-19 shipments during the worst part of the pandemic.

“In rapid response mode during the peaks of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021, we routinely turned around orders and requisitions in a day shortening lead times, with the fastest transaction time being nine days from initial request, to delivery to the client, a transaction cycle which usually takes several weeks.”

The shortened lead and transaction times are a testament to the efficacy of a data-driven approach, reflects Davenport. 

Meanwhile, he reports that PFSCM’s One Network control tower has enabled it to expand its digital capture of master data including product, supplier, logistics, and funding data among much more. 

Davenport adds that the control tower has helped PFSCM to build relationships with suppliers, collaborate with freight forwarders, easily reroute shipments, consolidate shipments with other service providers; and generally better absorb demand shocks and avert stockouts.

In conclusion, he explains that PFSCM continues to optimize its digital execution both in preparation for the next future shock and as a catalyst for change in health supply chains. 

“Data management and digital execution amplify the impact of many of PFSCM’s current initiatives like the expansion of our network of local and regional prequalified wholesalers, the capacity improvement of local and regional freight service providers; and the implementation of artificial intelligence, internet-of-things, and GS1 in health supply chains. All initiatives which help shape the supply chains of the future” concludes Davenport. 

Watch an on-demand webinar on The Value of a Global Digitized Health Community in which PFSCM and friends discuss current challenges and new technologies and processes that will improve the distribution of humanitarian aid and disaster relief globally.