3. CentraCare, St. Cloud, Minn.
CentraCare may be a small health system, but it has all the types of patient care that have been hard-hit during the pandemic: 8 hospitals, more than 30 clinics, 11 senior housing facilities and 7 long-term care facilities, all in a 16-county area of central Minnesota.
According to COO Craig Broman, the pandemic showed that the system needed more data and greater agility in analyzing that data so it could communicate better with its clinical partners. CentraCare also suffered from a lack of information about the origin of products it needed to care for patients, including manufacturers’ locations and suppliers’ disaster preparedness plans.
The health system started planning for shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for its providers when Cardinal Health announced a recall of 9.1 million surgical gowns in January. Although not a Cardinal customer, CentraCare found itself on the receiving end of supply limitations imposed by PPE suppliers who saw sudden spikes in orders.
Having a less global supply chain would have helped during the pandemic, as would knowing suppliers’ master plans and their ability to respond to unanticipated events, Broman said. CentraCare ended up competing with other healthcare providers for supplies, paying inflated prices, having no-show shipments and deliveries of low-quality supplies.
“We’re all just fighting for ourselves making sure that we get ample supply, and it has bene pure chaos to try and identify suppliers,” Broman said. “Many have asked for money down from 25% to 100% and you don’t know if you’re going to be getting counterfeit product or not. “
Now CentraCare leaders know what they must to do to improve and strengthen their supply chain, including having an enterprise planning system in place and having manufacturers ship directly rather than relying on distributors.
“It’s been really crazy,” Broman said. “We’ve been fortunate so far, but we’ve got to find a solution.”