Healthcare industry to expand and reconfigure their supply chains

Facing unprecedented demands to reduce costs, keep up with fast-changing regulatory requirements and ramp up innovation in the age of patent expirations and increased competition, executives are making investment plans and looking to protect their intellectual property and market share.

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Healthcare executives in the U.S., Europe and Asia are seeing both risks and opportunities as the pace of change in the healthcare industry accelerates globally, according to a new UPS survey.

Facing unprecedented demands to reduce costs, keep up with fast-changing regulatory requirements and ramp up innovation in the age of patent expirations and increased competition, executives are making investment plans and looking to protect their intellectual property and market share.

A focus on intellectual property protection emerged as a global healthcare industry priority, cited by 43 percent of respondents as a top business concern. Patent expirations also ranked high among pharmaceutical and biotech company concerns, cited by 43 percent of these respondents.

The No. 1 business concern for healthcare executives globally is change in healthcare legislation/reform, cited by 52 percent of respondents, followed by increasing regulations at 48 percent.  Among U.S. companies, concerns around reform have risen since 2010, with 60 percent reporting concern in 2011 versus 55 percent last year.  Changes in healthcare legislation/reform also was cited as the greatest perceived barrier to providing quality and affordable healthcare by 47 percent of respondents.

The annual survey, known as the UPS “Pain in the (Supply) Chain” survey, questioned senior-level healthcare supply chain executives at pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies in the U.S., Europe and Asia.  Now in its fourth year, the survey was conducted by TNS and expanded globally for the first time in 2011.

Amid industry pressures and change, healthcare executives also are focused on investing in their supply chains to increase their competitiveness. Technology investments ranked as the No. 1 strategy, with 86 percent of respondents reporting that they would invest in new technologies over the next three to five years.  Tapping into new global markets was the second top strategy for increasing competitiveness, with 81 percent of respondents reporting plans to expand in new areas in the next three to five years.

“Change is the only constant in healthcare today and it is happening on a global scale, driven by factors such as cost, regulatory pressures and global expansion,” said Bill Hook, vice president, global strategy, UPS Healthcare Logistics.  “Going forward, companies have to find new ways to innovate and adapt to rapid market changes and this is where the supply chain plays a pivotal role.  UPS helps healthcare companies leverage logistics to do things such as expand into new markets faster, implement greater supply chain efficiencies and improve the customer experience, leading to competitive advantages.”

The release of this survey comes on the heels of a UPS announcement that it will soon be rolling out a new reverse logistics service geared towards high-end products for shippers in the healthcare sector.

“It should come as no surprise that reverse logistics will play a significant strategic role in supply chain development,” said Michael Blumberg, a certified management consultant and president of the Blumberg Advisory Group.

“This also reflects the emphasis placed on risk mitigation here.”


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at pburnson@peerlessmedia.com.

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