The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the focus on infection control protocols in healthcare facilities and other sectors. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) skyrocketed and the world’s supply chain was stretched to keep up with the need for these vital products. Many healthcare providers and other businesses experienced difficulty obtaining affordably-priced, quality medical products that were available for timely delivery. Some even fell prey to fraudsters and substandard supplies. As a new year approaches, it’s a good time to evaluate whether your future PPE needs will be sufficiently covered.
Omicron and the existing winter surge of the Delta variant are expected concerns for 2022. Although the currently available COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are effective, the Omicron variant is believed to be more contagious and there is some evidence that certain treatments may not be as effective against the variant. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is expected to continue its focus on measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, including proper and consistent use of PPE. In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked Emergency Use Authorizations for non-NIOSH-approved disposable respirators and decontamination systems. Finally, the COVID-related challenges that plagued transportation in 2021 are likely to continue into 2022, according to the Health Industry Distributors Association. This could potentially compromise timely access to critical medical supplies.
Do you have a partner?
With so many challenges ahead, one of the most important aspects of ensuring your PPE needs will be met is evaluating whether you have the appropriate medical supply partner. Medical supply distributors are the vital connection between healthcare manufacturers and providers. They support the medical supply chain infrastructure that enables providers to focus on delivering care. When the pandemic and its related challenges struck, medical supply distributors were invaluable partners in helping healthcare facilities and other organizations find solutions for safely continuing their operations. Unfortunately, during this time, there was also a surge in opportunistic medical supply brokers. It is estimated that tens of thousands of new PPE broker businesses were started in 2020 alone. Brokers are not the same as medical supply distributors. Also, the new broker market is not part of the medical product supply chain. Unfortunately, some of these brokers also took advantage of buyers and even committed PPE fraud scams. For example, one broker recently pled guilty to allegedly orchestrating a $2 million PPE scheme involving the purchase and delivery of medical gowns that were never fulfilled.
To avoid costly pitfalls, it is important to know the difference between working with a broker and a qualified medical supply distributor.
- May not have experience in healthcare supplies or an established network of manufacturers
- Prices may be one-time deals for the highest price, supply and demand-based
- Product manufacturers may not be vetted for safety and quality
- No product delivery or condition guarantees
- Operate under long-term contracts with factories and healthcare facilities
- Have expertise in identifying quality and efficacy in products
- Stick to agreed-upon pricing based on long-term contracts even as demand increases
- Jump into action to rush products where they are needed
- Purchase and deliver verified safe, FDA-approved products from the factory to the doorstep of healthcare providers
Whether you choose to work with a broker, medical supply distributor or a combination of both, it is important to ensure the services and products always match your needs. It is good practice for suppliers to work with you to determine and communicate supply availability, identify appropriate product substitutions, vet manufacturers, source quality products, communicate expected delivery dates. Above all, your supplier should address and rectify any supply or service errors.
Let us help
For more than 30 years, Supply360 has been a reliable provider of quality medical supplies to healthcare facilities. To support providers and those they serve, we offer a diverse range of affordably-priced PPE and a knowledgeable customer service team. To learn more about how Supply360 can help you, call 866-710-7626 to contact one of our friendly in-house team members.