Survey shows states and health systems actively rebuilding individual stockpiles, illuminating lack of national coordination; Stockpiling should be supported with national and regional efforts to prevent a new, inadvertent wave of shortages as new hotspots emerge
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Nearly 90 percent of healthcare providers are contributing to stockpiles of critical medical supplies and drugs intended to last as long as 90 days, according to a recent survey conducted by Premier Inc. (NASDAQ: PINC), a leading healthcare improvement company. As new COVID-19 hotspots emerge, however, Premier’s survey shows local efforts to build stockpiles must be supported with a national strategy to avoid redirecting supplies away from front-line caregivers and exacerbating ongoing product shortages.
Premier’s survey found that either the health system or the state is directing the majority of stockpiling efforts, although product backorders are inhibiting requests to replenish the stockpiles and provide timely care. The products that providers cited as heavily backordered include:
- N95 masks and bouffant caps (both cited by 53 percent of respondents)
- Isolation gowns and shoe covers (both cited by 49 percent of respondents)
- Testing swabs and test kits (cited by 40 percent of respondents)
- Surgical gowns (cited by 35 percent of respondents)
- Exam gloves (cited by 32 percent of respondents)
- Surgical masks (cited by 30 percent of respondents)
- Syringes (cited by 7 percent of respondents)
“During the pandemic, the nation experienced a fragmented approach to securing supply that led to competition rather than coordination,” said Blair Childs, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Premier. “States and health systems need to feel confident in their ability to access an emergency stock of supplies, but absent a clear national strategy, we risk not being able to support providers through a regional surge in cases. To protect our front-line workers and patients, we must reinforce providers’ efforts with a national strategy that ensures coordination and reliability across stockpiles.”
Premier advocates for the creation of a national standard that integrates stockpiling needs at the federal, state and health system levels. Premier recommends a hub-and-spoke model that leverages the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) as well as a network of state and health system stockpiles, with an emphasis on collaboration and coordination between the entities maintaining inventories of supplies. Premier’s recommendations enhance transparency within the SNS and create a national standard for all stockpiles, including those at the state or local level, to ensure consistency and interoperability.
“We learned from the first wave that a disconnected approach is unsustainable,” said David A. Hargraves, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain at Premier. “As we work alongside our members to increase access to critical products, we recognize the need for a cohesive national stockpiling strategy to help support and stabilize the U.S. supply chain. Premier’s stockpiling recommendations are holistic, and would enable the SNS to work for any group that may need to leverage its contents – an entity built by providers for providers.”
Specifically, Premier recommends:
- The SNS maintain a minimum 90-day supply of critical medical supplies and drugs, as dictated by surge demand from hotspots such as New York and Washington.
- The Administration, working alongside private sector partners, create a streamlined and efficient process for states to access supplies and drugs from the SNS.
- The SNS provide, at minimum, a detailed monthly report of supplies that were distributed, including the recipient and quantity sent. During a public health emergency, reporting should occur weekly.
- The SNS partner proactively with group purchasing organizations to forecast demand and increase capacity to avoid shortages; ensure the SNS is continuously stocked with in-date products; and rotate soon-to-expire stock out of the SNS and into health systems at a discounted rate.
- The SNS work to ensure that critical medical supplies and drugs are located as close to the delivery of care as possible, including exploring opportunities to leverage health system warehouses.
- Health systems or regional buying groups be considered as potential stockpile operators. These organizations would be responsible for managing the stockpile for the providers in a region, allowing an efficient means to rotate inventory and assuring accountability for the stockpile.
- Creation of a customized stockpile for nursing homes with appropriate supplies, drugs and other needs.
- The SNS develop an integrated data infrastructure that utilizes clinical and supply predictive analytics to forecast geographical disease progression and surge demands to provide real-time insights to supply needs.
- The SNS seek feedback on the critical medical supplies and drugs it maintains from a public-private advisory council that includes representatives from the private sector, federal agencies, the Veterans Health Administration, Indian Health Services, prisons, first responders, state and local representatives, and others.
Premier’s survey was conducted from June 1-24, 2020, and sent to a representative portion of the Premier membership. Approximately 100 unique health systems and integrated delivery networks representing 2,026 total facilities across 48 states responded. Not every respondent answered every question. Premier has not independently verified the data submitted in response to the survey.