UTMB: Preparing for the next healthcare crisis
By Medline Newsroom Staff | August 25, 2022
Like many healthcare systems, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) is prioritizing, diversifying and upgrading its supply chain processes and stockpiles to mitigate the effects of future crises and supply chain disruptions.
The UTMB system includes a medical school; schools of Nursing, Health Professions, and Public and Population Health; graduate biomedical sciences and research programs; four hospital campuses and more than 90 clinics throughout Southeast Texas. The three UTMB hospitals located on the island of Galveston are especially vulnerable to severe storms and related supply chain disruptions.
“We have to be prepared because the world is changing,” said Chris Toomes, UTMB vice president of supply chain. “One of the things that COVID-19 taught us, is the need to truly be prepared to protect our entire patient population, as well as the staff and faculty who are critical to patient care.
Securing emergency stockpiles
“Back in 2018 and 2019, everything was moving to a lowest unit of measure delivery system,” Toomes continued, “and in a perfect world without a pandemic and without shortages, that made sense. Today, we’re building a bumper stock of PPE (personal protective equipment) and critical items that are absolutely needed to run a hospital.”
“I use the 3PL program to extend the UTMB supply chain and direct the symphony, so to speak. I know what it is and where it is, and we can move it efficiently.”
UTMB Vice President of Supply Chain
Prior to 2020, most hospitals and healthcare systems had some disaster inventory; however, many stockpiles “were tremendously undersized, and there were not enough supplies to meet demand,” said Peter Saviola, Medline vice president, supply chain optimization. In addition, some stockpiles had not been appropriately managed over the years, resulting in supplies that were “expired, obsolete or damaged.” When supplies did become available for purchase, many healthcare systems did not have the space to store the new inventory.
Today, UTMB utilizes data to more precisely analyze delivery and procurement patterns, and regularly reviews surgical preference cards to reduce waste and supply duplication. In addition, the healthcare system has partnered with Medline to access more storage space and advanced logistics.
3PL warehouse and logistical solutions
Through 3PL, a new customized third-party logistics stockpile management program, “Medline is able to take in large amounts of healthcare system-owned inventory; place it into our distribution center infrastructure; and then utilize our systems, our technology and our logistics to provide visibility to those stockpiles. We also provide timely delivery,” said Saviola.
Medline’s distribution center in Katy, Texas
“I have flexibility and can divide my stock between multiple locations, which is especially critical given weather events in Galveston,” said Toomes. “We may have supplies on the island, but I need to take care of other locations. I use the 3PL program to extend the UTMB supply chain and direct the symphony, so to speak. I know what it is and where it is, and we can move it efficiently.”
To date, more than 70 healthcare systems are partnering with Medline through the 3PL program, which is supported by the company’s $2 billion, multi-year Healthcare Resilience Initiative (HRI). Since 2018, HRI has resulted in the construction of eight new distribution centers, including one near the Port of Savannah; nearly 150 manufacturing expansion projects; and a new global digital customer ordering platform. Medline has more than 20 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. In 2020, the company’s domestic manufacturing capabilities were expanded to include the production of 36 million face masks a month.
For Toomes, the 3PL program is helping UTMB to maintain a 90-day PPE stockpile and provides reassurance that the health system can weather any crisis or storm.
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Medline Newsroom Staff
Medline Newsroom Staff
Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.