There’s a world of possibility for med-tech providers and the patients they serve – as long as they can harness the demands of supply chain management. Dan Gagnon, healthcare logistics director, UPS Europe, shares his insight on how best to achieve this and implement a healthy supply chain.

According to UPS’s 2013 ‘Pain in the (Supply) Chain’ survey, the issues concerning those in the industry are as pressing as ever, including balancing cost and opportunity, entering emerging markets and the burden of managing regulatory environments across global borders.

Fortunately, best practices are emerging. Dan Gagnon, Healthcare Logistics Director, UPS Europe, suggests the following five ways of ensuring a healthy supply chain.

1. Leverage the right partnerships

Strong logistics and distribution partnerships help maximise supply chain efficiency and can fill in knowledge gaps regarding new market access and regulatory compliance. The ideal partner knows your product and the industry, but can also leverage best practices from other sectors, such as fast-moving consumer goods, to give you a real 360° perspective on supply chain optimisation.

But introducing a new working partner does not come without risk, which is why it is crucial to find the one that’s right for you. Protect yourself with an airtight supplier quality agreement and a risk-based audit programme that keeps the avenues of communication wide open and builds accountability and trust in both directions.

2. Manage regulatory challenges by calling on tools and expertise

63% of respondents to the ‘Pain in the (Supply) Chain’ survey said that regulatory compliance is an ongoing concern, but that isn’t halting expansion. More than three quarters of healthcare executives intend to tap into new global markets in the next five years, and there are a variety of approaches that can smooth the transition. Implementing barcoding and serialisation can help streamline record-keeping when meeting differing market regulatory demands. Additionally, working with a global partner such as UPS, which does business in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, can make customs interactions, government agency certification and smooth transportation a straightforward process.

3. Put power behind product security management efforts

For the first time, product security concerns are outpacing supply chain costs as a significant issue for healthcare logistics professionals, as threats from counterfeiters are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to work with a strong supply chain partner that can insure against risk and provide enhanced in-transit monitoring and intervention to prevent losses. In addition, by deploying high-level technology protection such as barcoding, e-pedigree and chain-of-custody tools, you can make sure that products are authentic and secure. The right logistics partner can help ensure that products arrive in the right place at the right time – and in the right condition.

4. Access global markets with innovative strategies

More than a third of healthcare professionals UPS spoke to listed access to new markets as a top supply chain issue, but managing the regulatory requirements of multiple countries can consume time and profits. Companies that effectively work across international boundaries are agile, with standard operation procedures in place to adapt to changing regulations. Working with a logistics partner with an international footprint can help develop these processes, smoothing transactions, minimising leakage of intellectual property and reducing waste and loss.

5. Get a handle on costs

With the development of intricate supply chains, cost management can become more complex. Half of organisations who responded to the UPS ‘Pain in the (Supply) Chain’ survey said that they relied upon logistics and distribution partnerships to manage these costs. To optimise these partnerships, from consultants to suppliers, it can be worthwhile to take a step back and evaluate each supplier’s role. Look to partner with a logistics provider that has a worldwide, multiclient distribution network, which can provide you with the advantages without stacking up additional costs.

To see the 2013 UPS ‘Pain in the (Supply) Chain’ survey results or find out more about UPS Healthcare, visit the website at the address below.