Since early 2020, healthcare providers have faced many of the same supply chain issues as other industries, often dealing with critical supply shortages alongside a global scarcity of nursing staff. Strengthening the supplier network while facing obstacles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, but Encompass Health has made a concerted effort to mitigate disruption to its hospitals’ operations.
Finding the Right Partners
The company has also remained focused on the mission of diversifying its supplier list. Elaine Prince, vice president of supply chain operations at Encompass Health, said the company is committed to this ongoing work. Securing supplies and equipment for Encompass Health hospitals is her team’s primary focus, but it’s also important to embed diversity best-practices into that process, she said.
“We include supplier diversity questions in our bid documents and procurement system, and we have developed supplier diversity reporting in order to track the various diversity categories represented by our vendors,” Prince said.
Supply pedigree mapping, alternative item sourcing and vendor inventory analysis are all pieces of this effort. As the company adds more secondary vendors to its supplier network, Prince and her team continue to look for diverse suppliers that may not have been chosen to serve as a primary supplier for Encompass Health in the past.
“For example, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted us to get creative when sourcing the necessary PPE for our workforce,” Prince said. “When we needed to source clear medical masks for speech therapy and better patient communication, we were able to partner with the certified women-owned, deaf-owned company ClearMask to provide thousands of these masks to our clinicians.”
Keeping Up with Company Growth
Meeting the growing needs of Encompass Health’s 153 inpatient rehabilitation hospitals is no easy task. The company’s commitment to a diverse supply chain will be tested alongside an aggressive growth strategy; the company plans to build six to 10 hospitals per year for the foreseeable future.
Prince and her team are responsible for identifying standards and procuring the best supplies, furniture, equipment, services and related training for the growing hospital network. Additionally, Prince’s team helps with budgeting, installation, vendor relationship management and much more.
Learn more about Encompass Health’s supply chain practices in Supply Chain World, where Prince speaks to Encompass Health’s growth strategy, including the company’s plans to invest millions into state-of-the-art dialysis equipment and robotics while also refreshing older equipment across the company’s vast network of hospitals.