Compliance, customers and custody top healthcare supply chain challenges

30 October 2013

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Regulatory compliance, new customer demands, and product security are driving healthcare executives to make strategic supply chain investments, according to research.


UPS’s Pain in the (Supply) Chain healthcare survey, conducted by TNS, found new technology and new markets were top of the list of investments.


The study, of 441 healthcare executives in the US and Canada, Western Europe, Asia and Latin America, found that 84 per cent of those surveyed plan to invest in new technologies in the next five years. Some 78 per cent will enter new global markets, and 70 per cent will implement new distribution channels, such as going direct to providers, retailers and end-patients. Meanwhile, 59 per cent will increase reliance on third-party logistics partners.


The number one supply chain concern globally continues to be regulatory compliance, cited by 63 per cent as a challenge. Navigating country regulations are also the top barrier to global expansion, cited by 47 per cent of those surveyed.


Growing concerns about product protection is prompting investment in technology to secure high-value shipments and product spoilage. The survey showed a large increase in the number of executives planning to invest in systems that support e-pedigree/serialisation and temperature-sensitive security solutions.


Issues such as increasing counterfeit sophistication and poor supply chain visibility are becoming top concerns for executives.


Some 40 per cent of executives worldwide are also worried about intellectual property protection. In Asia, 51 per cent of respondents are concerned about competition, and 41 per cent about patent expirations.


In North America, 60 per cent of respondents cite cost management as a top supply chain concern, higher than average. Regulatory compliance is also a top concern for 66 per cent of logistics executives and is cited as the main barrier to global expansion.


The impact of the global economic downturn is still being felt by half of those surveyed, with respondents in Asia more optimistic than those in the US.


"Healthcare companies are balancing a number of priorities related to capturing business growth opportunities in new markets, protecting increasingly sophisticated and high-value products and navigating a complex regulatory environment worldwide," said Bill Hook, vice president, global strategy at UPS Healthcare Logistics.

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