More on Supply Chain

Supply chain needs security, visibility to stem billions in product loss for healthcare

Expert Julie Hurley will address pitfalls in "Securing and Illuminating the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain" webinar Wednesday.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Julie Hurley, Industry Director of Enterprise Solutions for Unisys, has been in the life science industry for 20 years.

"I've been exposed to the end to end process of what goes on in the industry," said Hurley, who will be leading a webinar for the HIMSS learning center Wednesday.

Supply chain management is a key challenge for many organizations because by its very nature, there are a lot of moving parts and people.

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[Also: Medical supply surpluses a common source of hospital waste]

"For the industry it's a black box. They have control over their ingredients. They have control over their manufacturing process but once it gets to the door and on a truck, they really don't have visibility."

Pharmaceuticals are being stolen or counterfeited, require high level of environmental monitoring and carry cost pressures, especially biologics which have a limited shelf life and must get to their destination promptly. It's a system that has always been fraught with headaches because there's no direct control over what happens in supply chain, then add pressures of costs, supply and demand and reaction time when something goes wrong, Hurley said. When things do go wrong in supply chain, the impact is a domino effect throughout the organization affecting manufacturers, ERP and compliance systems, suppliers and most of all patients who don't get the treatments they need.

[Also: 50 healthcare organizations dubbed best in supply chain by GHX]

Hurley plans to delve into the necessary security requirements including those in the Drug Quality and Security Act like using G "TIN" or "Global Trade Item Number" codes, the database and creating serial numbers that prove authenticity.

If that's not secure, if how a code is created and moves through the supply chain is not secure it's all for naught, Hurley said.

There's also a lot of monetization in supply chain, as manufacturers will buy data from dispensers from shippers about their products. In order to preserve monetization the industry needs to make sure that the data it's supplying into blockchain technology is seen by only those who need to see it so no competitors can see what's being shipped and where, and no competitive advantage can be gained.

[Also: HIMSS Learning Center]

"That to me is why security is so important: protecting the progress we are making and protecting the interests of those within that supply chain," Hurley said.

For more on this important topic, including why healthcare system leaders and providers should be taking an active interest in supply chain issues, Wednesday's webinar starts at 1pm EST.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn