The tumultuous events of 2020 have shone a bright light on healthcare supply chains as companies have struggled with challenges from the pandemic to hurricanes, forest fires, and trade wars, but certain practitioners still rose above their competitors, according to a ranking from the analyst firm Gartner Inc.
Johnson & Johnson took the top spot in the 12th annual Gartner Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 ranking, which recognizes companies across the healthcare value chain that advance healthcare by improving patient outcomes and controlling costs. The rest of the top five included CVS Health, Cleveland, McKesson, and Banner Health.
The Covid-19 pandemic remains a fundamental challenge to both supply and demand on a massive scale, Gartner said. Extreme demand swings stressed—and in some cases broke—supply chains, bringing into sharp focus what worked and what didn’t.
Against that backdrop, leading supply chains leaders embraced the disruption as an opportunity to drive their supply chains further, adding new capabilities that will benefit not only their response to the pandemic, but also make their supply chains better once the world transitions to a new normal, the firm found.
“Successful supply chains don’t focus on just one strategy, but a portfolio of elements and solutions to protect their supply chains, including classic risk management, demand and supply visibility, and agility,” Stephen Meyer, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, said in a release.
In many countries, there was a fast pivot to telemedicine and home healthcare, practices that both requires a unique response to address new demand patterns and leverage different fulfillment networks. For pharmaceutical companies, this means potentially forgoing the classic wholesale relationship and building direct-to-patient capabilities and logistics networks. Several leading supply chains managed to quickly align their networks to the new realities and get patients the care they needed.
Another leadership trait that made supply chain leaders stand out in 2020 is the alignment of the supply chain function to the overall organization’s strategy. Especially in the early days of the pandemic, ensuring that demand was fulfilled, and supply continued, took the full attention of the organization.
“Leading supply chains ensure strategy development is directly linked to their company’s process,” Meyer said. “They align the supply chain strategy to the existing corporate goals, but also ensure company leadership understands how the supply chain can innovate to deliver additional company or customer value. Additionally, they seek external guidance from their customers and peers to include their perspective.”