The Evolution of Supply Chain is Becoming Patient-Centric

Patient-Centric Supply Chain Blog Article

The face of life sciences has undergone a change. More and more organizations are aligning their strategies and business models towards providing the best possible end-to-end experience for the patient and their families. What does this mean? Industries such as pharmaceuticals and medical device are becoming increasingly more patient-centric. These businesses are realizing tremendous breakthroughs in innovation and related increases in market share. Beyond the realization of decreased healthcare costs, patients are seeing improved results in treating their disease or recovery time from major surgery.

Patient-centric medicine has made the individual the focal point, moving away from what previously seemed like a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare. The days of bringing a variety pack of orthopedic implants into the operating room or trying to guess the dosage and chemical composition of a particular pharmaceutical are giving way to solutions more tightly aligned with the patient’s specific needs.

This evolution is not without challenges including significant changes regarding how the organization operates. In order to be successful, core processes must be adapted to meet new requirements. How the organization manages their supply chain can yield tremendous benefit to both the business and their patients. Supply Chain Management (SCM) is critical to the business in keeping up with global regulatory changes, increased efficiency in demand and manufacturing of product, inventory buffers, and shipping and distribution of product. This all contributes to an improved patient experience through more timely delivery, improved patient outcomes and lower costs.      

Traditional Supply Chain       

In the traditional supply chain process model, the individual was rarely a consideration. In fact, the patient is only truly a participant at the end of the process. Only after the drug or device is developed, manufactured, sold or distributed is the patient consulted. Traditionally the primary focus has been on demand planning, S&OP, production planning and raw materials planning and procurement. All of these are critical to the Supply Chain process and organizations invest heavily in tools that help to facilitate good decision making but in a patient-centric environment the patient is finding a new position in the chain.  

Patient-centric Supply Chain

Organizations with a patient-centric business model have begun to transition their supply chain strategy in order to meet the demands of the patient. Businesses must adhere to the challenges posed by an aging population and regulatory bodies that increasing rely on the voice of the patient, among other things. In order to be successful in meeting these challenges, life sciences companies are forging strong collaborative partnerships with their suppliers, leveraging advancing technologies, and, most importantly, the patient is moving up in the supply chain process.

Supply Chain Ecosystem

The supply chain ecosystem has transformed from silos into a single ecosystem of R&D, suppliers, manufacturing organizations, and distributors working together to achieve real-time results. The ecosystem allows for better agility and flexibility in order to better serve the patient. All of the organizations participating in this ecosystem are able to react to change more effectively. This helps the business avoid issues such as stock outs, shipping and delivery challenges, and any other outside forces that can affect the patient receiving the best possible care. 

Advanced Technologies

Advancement in technology has driven the business and the patient toward this refined supply chain process. Patients are increasingly more informed than previous generations. With the advent of social media and the internet, patients are able to help guide the level of care they receive. This is one reason for the inclusion of the patient earlier in the supply chain process. Another factor contributing to the increased reliance on the customer is that in many cases the customer must supply tissue, cells, or some other patient sample that contributes to the final delivered outcome. 

Emerging technologies such as 3D printing, Big Data, and cloud computing are allowing businesses to achieve what they previously believed to be impossible. Big Data has allowed organizations to leverage their relationships with customers and other entities within the supply chain ecosystem to absorb large amounts of data and make informed decisions through enhanced analytics. It is difficult to discuss Big Data without seeing the impact on Machine Learning. Machine Learning has been a focus technology where many supply chain teams see great value and efficiency. Cloud computing has enabled global partners to share real time data, keep a watchful eye on the environment in which they operate, and make necessary changes that enable the business to satisfy patient needs. There are many challenges when dealing with living samples and none more so than temperature. Emerging technologies such as IoT and sensors have allowed businesses to realize better treatment manufacturing and delivery of treatment to patients. 3D printing has allowed manufacturers to realize Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing of joint replacements and various other therapies and implants. These examples are the tip of the iceberg. Consider how technology has transformed healthcare in the recent past; as technology continues to evolve organizations will further optimize the supply chain process and realize even greater advancements in patient-centric medicine.


Organizations are scrambling to grab greater market share by offering patient-centric medicine in their respective segment. Businesses have seen the future of medicine and are changing the way they operate in order to get there. Organizations are focusing on leveraging partner collaboration and technology and including the patient they are treating earlier in the process in order to build their patient-centric supply chain.


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