IBM Helps Battle Medical Supply Chain Shortages
As part of IBM's approach to combating COVID-19, the company announced Rapid Supplier Connect, a blockchain-based network designed to help government agencies and healthcare organizations identify new, non-traditional suppliers who have pivoted to address the shortage of equipment, devices and supplies needed for COVID-19 relief efforts.
Rapid Supplier Connect is available at no cost until August 31, 2020 to qualified buyers and suppliers in the United States and Canada. Suppliers and buyers currently joining the network include hospitals and other organizations such as Northwell Health, New York's largest healthcare provider, and The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation, which is onboarding more than 200 American suppliers from its 3,000 global community members.
"Northwell Health has had adequate supplies to protect patients and our staff during the increase in New York COVID-19 patient cases," said Phyllis McCready, vice president and chief procurement officer at Northwell Health. "It is through creating our own GPOs and supply chain, and joining forces with non-traditional suppliers that we have maintained an adequate stockpile of PPE and other equipment and supplies, so we are pleased to join IBM Rapid Supplier Connect."
With healthcare workers and other first responders feeling the impact of supply chains disrupted by unprecedented challenges, many large and small businesses from outside the traditional healthcare procurement system are reconfiguring to mass produce masks, gowns and other essential supplies. In order to begin purchasing from them at scale, buyers need help identifying these new suppliers, efficiently vetting and on-boarding them, and understanding their real-time inventory availability. The network also helps identify existing supplies and excess inventory going unused, allowing hospitals to make it available to others and redirect supplies where they are needed most.
Buyers who access the network can benefit from a broader range of suppliers outside of their traditional supply chain, a streamlined supplier onboarding process, validation checks and inventory information in near-real time. Suppliers benefit from a portable online identity, access to user feedback and the ability to post and manage inventory availability. Joining the network is expected to take buyers and suppliers approximately 30 minutes, with industry and technical support provided by IBM's operational support center to assist with onboarding and getting value from the network.