The eighth UPS Pain in the Chain survey was conducted by TNS between April and June 2015. A total of 421 interviews of healthcare logistics executives were carried out in 16 countries.
Fifteen separate, qualitative interviews were conducted in North America to gain further insights into trends, challenges, and opportunities impacting healthcare logistics.
Strong pulse: areas of success
Healthcare and life sciences logistics decision makers are seeing success addressing product security. Their reported success rate in this area saw a 20 percentage point jump over 2014 findings. IT-based solutions, such as bar coding and serialization, and cooperation with law enforcement, are likely to have contributed to improved product security from a visibility and criminal issues standpoint.
Healthcare companies are becoming more successful with regulatory compliance. This is particularly welcome, because the industry can expect only more scrutiny, regulations, and compliance burdens moving forward.
From the European Union’s Good Distribution Practices (GDP) to Brazil’s strict serialization law, new regulations can be difficult to navigate, but healthcare companies are adapting well to change, with success in addressing regulatory compliance showing a 13 percentage point increase from 2014.
Healthcare companies have achieved success using logistics and distribution partnerships as a strategy to address supply chain challenges associated with regulatory compliance, product damage and spoilage, and cost management.
Stable pulse: areas of progress
Product damage and spoilage remains a concern as products become more complex and in-transit monitoring and intervention options are underutilized. Companies are seeing success through partnerships with higher-quality
shipping companies and the use of faster shipping service levels with 63 percent reporting success in addressing product damage and spoilage issues, but opportunities for further improvement remain.
Weak pulse: areas needing attention
Cost management is still a substantial supply chain issue, even though the level of concern is declining year-overyear. Healthcare logistics decision makers report rapid business growth, fluctuations in fuel and raw materials costs, increasing regulations, and new market expansion as the biggest challenges to managing supply chain costs.
Contingency planning is an area healthcare and life sciences companies may find hard to justify investments in, based on the limited and unpredictable impact of disruptions to the supply chain. Unplanned events have impacted healthcare supply chains in the last 3-5 years, but a large percentage of supply chain decision makers still do not consider the subject important.