The Importance of an Emergency Supply Chain Audit Plan

Missy Hill, Intalere leader

By Missy Hill, Med Surg Advisory Specialist, Intalere

Among the innumerable impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a focus on the importance of the supply chain in general and the healthcare supply chain in particular. What many organizations have found is that the cost of not being prepared is extremely high and severely affects the continued function of their business. There is not a department in a healthcare facility that is not impacted by an unprepared emergency supply chain.

Performing a supply chain audit plan that includes risk management, survey readiness and emergency preparation will keep your organization ahead of the curve and provide comprehensive benefits to your organization and your community including:

  • Protecting public safety and preventing loss of life and injury.
  • Reducing harm to existing and future development.
  • Maintaining community continuity and strengthening the social connections that are essential for recovery.
  • Preventing damage to your community’s unique economic, cultural and environmental assets.
  • Minimizing operational downtime and accelerating recovery of government and business after disasters.
  • Reducing the costs of disaster response and recovery and the exposure to risk for first responders.

Let’s look at some of the challenges an emergency situation can bring and a few recommendations for building your plan, response and audit.

Detecting Incoming Issues In A Fast-Changing Situation – Accept that you are now in new territory, where the normal rules of problem emergence and problem definition are not valid. Leaders will have to grasp the evolving nature of the crisis in a timely manner to stay ahead of the curve while avoiding suggestions that they seek to exploit or manufacture it. Timing and framing are everything.

Making Sense Of A Dynamic Threat With Limited Information – Gather as much feedback as possible from statistics on testing and hospital bed capacities, to issues of societal resilience and the extent of compliance with new laws, regulations and guidelines. But realize that the data may prompt new questions. Be aware of what happens in other countries but recognize that threat trajectories and success measures do not automatically translate into valid prescriptions for different environments. Deep uncertainty is the essence of the crisis. Accept major limitations to your information flow rather than waiting for better conditions for decision-making to emerge.

Making Life-Or-Death Decisions – Avoid the temptation of heroic leadership – the historic model of the ultimate decision that demands the ultimate sacrifice. Stick with the limited hard data that you have but realize that experts will not take all values into consideration. Making value judgments and weighing the balance of interests are what prudent political leadership is about. In charting a course, take a pragmatic approach by trying to avoid irreversible decisions as long as you can, and create mental and political space for adjusting and reversing decisions that turn out to be counterproductive or wrong.

The Art of Strategic Coordination – Think about this crisis and the responses to it across sectors, across levels, across boundaries. In a crisis, formal competencies and institutionalized boundaries can be navigated with surprising ease, as long as the skills of people and organizations are recognized and respected. Leaders need to reach out and bring everybody on board. That is the art of strategic coordination. Office-driven or agency-centric command and control are overrated.

Keep a Worried Public And Wary Workers On Your Side – All messaging must have a clear and convincing bottom line. If the elderly are vulnerable, the message and measures should be aimed at protecting the elderly. If ICU beds are in short supply, leaders should explain where they will come from or who will get to use them. Treat citizens (and staff) like adults.

It can be a daunting task to pull together these resources on the front end and keep them continuously updated, not to mention keeping a cross-functional plan team engaged and collaborative on a consistent basis. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated, the price of not being prepared can have devastating consequences.  Remember the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

We Can Help

Intalere provides a number of resources that can assist in the areas of supply chain, emergency preparedness and regulatory/survey readiness, as well as many other areas of your operations. Please reach out to us to see how we can help. Contact Customer Service at  877-711-5600 or or your Intalere representative.

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