May 17, 2020

10 Healthcare Innovators to be Inducted into Bellwether League Hall of Fame

Hospital Leadership
United States Healthcare
Bellwether Le
Hospital Leadership
4 min
Bellwether League Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that selects individuals to be publicly recognized for their contributions in improving the healthcare supply chain.
Ten healthcare industry pioneers and visionaries are set to join 62 other rank-and-file leaders when they are inducted into Bellwether League Inc., the...

Ten healthcare industry pioneers and visionaries are set to join 62 other rank-and-file leaders when they are inducted into Bellwether League Inc., the hall of fame for healthcare supply chain leadership, this October.

Bellwether League identifies and honors individuals who have demonstrated significant leadership in and influence on the healthcare supply chain.

“Supply chain professionals can be proud of their role and contribution to the healthcare industry,” says Jamie C. Kowalski, co-founder and chairman, Bellwether League Inc. “What they do every day enables and supports the care provided, while it helps maintain the providers’ positive bottom line. Through supply chain performance optimization and innovations, care can be provided at the required level, while operating expenses are reduced and hopefully, minimized. Every dollar saved through the supply chain goes right to the bottom line and the bank account. This provides the operating cash that supports expansion of services and future innovations in care and/or accommodates and helps fund care for those who need it. Not bad for a profession that typically is under the radar.”

Bellwether League’s Board of Directors elected the following professionals to the Bellwether Class of 2014:

Henry A. Berling helped to forge and expand a number of prominent distributors, including Owens & Minor Inc. and Stuart Medical, as well as craft solid contracts with some of the larger healthcare systems and industry-leading integrated delivery networks searching for supplier partners to assist in cost reduction and process standardization.

Robert P. “Bud” Bowen demonstrated his customer service and group purchasing acumen by helping to form, develop and grow Amerinet Inc. into one of the largest and leading group purchasing organizations in the nation.

Brent T. Johnson developed Intermountain Healthcare's highly regarded consolidated service center, which has served as a model for other healthcare organizations to emulate, as well as implemented a self-distribution strategy generating noteworthy benefits for his organization and the patients served, and extended potential boundaries for others.

Norman A. Krumrey applied the supply chain skills he honed in the aircraft industry to hospitals starting in the early 1970s, implementing centralized process and coding controls and automated cart systems in supply processing and distribution, as well as working with clinicians and physicians, which elevated him to the C-suite as a supply chain leader, and later propelled him to GPO leadership ranks.

Keith Kuchta’s industry contributions through Kimberly-Clark Health Care helped to establish the annual Georgetown Healthcare Leadership Institute for hospital supply chain and other departmental leaders and develop a number of Strategic Marketplace Initiative projects.

Randall A. Lipps was inspired and motivated by his personal healthcare experience to develop and manufacture automated technology for hospitals and other healthcare facilities in an effort to reduce, if not eliminate, process inefficiencies, redundancies and risks in the administration and delivery of patient care.

Dale A. Montgomery completed his career as a C-suite-based supply chain executive after working up the ladder from orderly four decades earlier for the same organization. His dedication to his employer was matched by his dedication to the supply chain profession, having spearheaded clinical quality value analysis and dedicated physician relationships to solidify his organization's clinical, fiscal and operational foundation.

Richard A. Perrin has been an advocate for and ambassador of healthcare supply chain information technology use and a pioneering voice for supply data standards. He helped bridge the clinical and corporate gaps between government and private sector supply chain operations.

Joseph M. Pleasant believed in healthcare information systems interoperability and supply data standards that he helped found and chair separate organizations to justify and promote either cause. Through his CIO chair in Premier's C-suite, Pleasant worked with other GPOs to drive data standards adoption and implementation as well as helped the federal Department of Defense pilot data standards use for its facilities.

Earl G. Reubel broke new corporate cultural ground with the introduction of what he called “supplier diversity” mentoring to nurture diverse, small and local suppliers into growing incrementally via financial and operational planning into national players even as he led his own distribution company. Through the late Reubel’s efforts, suppliers learned how to reach across the provider aisles, linking the C-suite and other administrators to physicians and clinicians serving patients.

Of the 10, five are retired or semi-active and near retirement, one is deceased and four remain active and dedicated to service.

Bellwether nominated these individuals for their achievements and contributions in the delivery of quality care through efficient and innovative supply chain operations.

“Bellwether League's Board of Directors is so very proud of each class, and these newest honorees continue the tradition. They will take their rightful place alongside others who have made a difference to our profession - each in slightly different ways and in various areas of the Supply Chain, but nevertheless making it better for all of us in the business of taking care of patients,” said John B. Gaida, Board Chairman, Bellwether League Inc. “Each of them knew what was critical for their individual part of the supply chain - they did it and did it better than most. Bellwether League Inc.'s mission is to find these worthy individuals and honor them and their achievements. Our very best wishes go to each of them!”

Bellwether Class of 2014 Honorees will be inducted at the 7th Annual Honoree Induction Dinner Event, scheduled for Monday, Oct. 6, at the Sheraton Chicago O'Hare Airport Hotel, Rosemont, Illinois.

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Apr 30, 2021

The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone

Jonathan Colehower
5 min
The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone
Jonathan Colehower, CEO at CargoChain, describes the COVID-19 vaccine distribution challenges impacting every country, organisation and individual...

While it is comforting to know that vaccines against COVID-19 are showing remarkable efficacy, the world still faces intractable challenges with vaccine distribution. Specifically, the sheer number of vaccines required and the complexity of global supply chains are sure to present problems we have neither experienced nor even imagined. 

Current projections estimate that we could need 12-15 billion doses of vaccine, but the largest vaccine manufacturers produce less than half this volume in a year. To understand the scale of the problem, imagine stacking one billion pennies – you would have a stack that is 950 miles high. Now, think of that times ten. This is a massive problem that one nation can’t solve alone.  

Production capacity 

Even if we have a vaccine – can we make enough? Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses this year. Moderna is working to expand its capacity to one billion units this year. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is likely to produce 60% of the 3 billion doses committed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. This leaves us about 7 billion doses short. 

Expanding vaccine production for most regions in the world is complicated and time-consuming. Unlike many traditional manufacturing operations that can expand relatively quickly and with limited regulation, pharmaceutical production must meet current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines. So, not only does it take time to transition from R&D to commercial manufacturing, but it could also take an additional six months to achieve CGMP certification. 

The problem becomes even more complex when considering the co-products required. Glass vials and syringes are just two of the most essential co-products needed to produce a vaccine. Last year, before COVID-19, global demand for glass vials was 12 billion. Even if it is safe to dispense ten doses per vial, there is certain to be significant pressure on world supply of the materials needed to package and distribute a vaccine.

It is imperative drug manufacturers and their raw material suppliers have clear visibility of production plans and raw material availability if there is any hope of optimizing scarce resources and maximising production yield.

Distribution requirements

It is widely known by now that temperature is a critical factor for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the regions with the most developed logistics infrastructures and resources needed to support a cold-chain network are sure to struggle with distribution.

For the United States alone, State and local health agencies have determined distribution costs will exceed $8.4 billion, including $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training; $1.2 billion for cold-chain, $1 billion vaccination sites and $0.5 billion IT upgrades.  

The complexity of the problem increases further when considering countries such as India that do not have cold-chain logistics networks that meet vaccine requirements. Despite India’s network of 28,000 cold-chain units, none are capable of transporting vaccines below -25°Celsius. While India’s Serum Institute has licensed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which can reportedly be stored in standard refrigerated environments, even a regular vaccine cold chain poses major challenges.

Furthermore, security will undoubtedly become a significant concern that global authorities must address with a coordinated solution. According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products rose nearly 70% over the past five years. As with any valuable and scarce product, counterfeits will emerge. Suppliers and producers are actively working on innovative approaches to limit black-market interference. Corning, for example, is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting.

Clearly, this is a global problem that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.

Disconnected information systems 

While it is unreasonable to expect every country around the world will suddenly adopt a standard technology that would provide immediate, accurate and available information for everyone, it is not unreasonable to think that we can align on a standard taxonomy that can serve as a Rosetta Stone for collaboration. 

A shared view of the situation (inventory, raw materials, delivery, defects) will provide every nation with the necessary information to make life-saving decisions, such as resource pooling, stock allocations and population coverage.

By allowing one central authority, such as the World Health Organization, to organize and align global leaders to a single collaboration standard, such as GS1, and a standard sharing protocol, such as DSCSA, then every supply chain participant will have the ability to predict, plan and execute in a way that maximises global health.

Political influence and social equality 

As if we don’t have enough stress and churn in today’s geopolitical environment, we must now include the challenge of “vaccine nationalism.” While this might not appear to be a supply chain problem, per se, it is a critical challenge that will hinge on supply chain capabilities.

In response to the critical supply issues the world experienced with SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) formed Covax: a coalition dedicated to equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines to its 172 member countries. Covax is currently facilitating a purchasing pool and has made commitments to buy massive quantities of approved vaccines when they become available.  

However, several political powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Russia, are not participating. Instead, they are striking bilateral deals with drug manufacturers – essentially, competing with the rest of the world to secure a national supply. Allocating scarce resources is never easy, but when availability could mean the difference between life and death, it becomes almost impossible.

Global production, distribution and social equality present dependent yet conflicting realities that will demand global supply chains provide complete transparency and an immutable chain of custody imperative to vaccine distribution. 

The technology is available today – we just need to use it. We have the ability to track every batch, pallet, box, vile and dose along the supply chain. We have the ability to know with absolute certainty that the vaccine is approved, where and when it was manufactured, how it was handled and whether it was compromised at any point in the supply chain. Modern blockchain technologies should be applied so that every nation, institution, regulator, doctor and patient can have confidence in knowing that they are making an impact in eradicating COVID-19.

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