2013 Pain in the Chain healthcare survey results


Report highlights top logistics concerns – and how leaders are overcoming them.

Executives in many businesses can claim that their supply chains are costly and complex – and they're right. But the stakes are higher for logistics professionals in the healthcare industry, where people's health and lives depend on their shipments.

The sixth annual UPS Pain in the (Supply) Chain Survey takes an in-depth look at healthcare logistics challenges – and solutions.

And these healthcare professionals face a range of logistical challenges, both in the United States and internationally. The sixth annual UPS Pain in the (Supply) Chain Survey takes an in-depth look at the challenges – and solutions.

The most-reported supply chain pain points vary by region, but these three issues take top spots worldwide:

1. Regulatory compliance. Following the rules and avoiding fines and delays can be challenging. Regulations change, new markets are complex, and managing the requirements in multiple countries can be costly.

Yet healthcare executives are looking to expand globally, setting their sights on China, Brazil and India.

What works for tackling these challenges? Executives point to investing in IT solutions, staffing up or hiring consultants, and partnering with distribution firms, either local or multinational.

2. Product protection. With some pharmaceutical prices climbing above $100,000 a year, and some high-value, complex products traveling in long – and growing – supply chains, product protection is paramount. Challenges include:

  • Sophisticated counterfeits
  • Poor supply-chain visibility with multiple handoffs 
  • Inadequate law enforcement
  • Gray market trade
  • Underregulated wholesalers and repackagers 
  • Illegal online pharmacies

More companies report success battling these challenges with shipment insurance than with any other solution. Other answers that are making a difference in protecting products include:

  • Bar coding and other IT solutions
  • Enhanced in-transit monitoring and intervention
  • Visible authentication such as holographs and security inks
  • Covert authentication such as invisible inks and microimages 
  • Law enforcement response

3. Managing expenses. Costs are a major concern in the healthcare supply chain, with shipping and labor expenses topping the list. What's working for healthcare executives? Logistics and distribution partnerships, IT investment, supply chain analysis, outsourcing transportation management, and mergers and acquisitions.

Making progress
To address all three of these top supply chain concerns, healthcare executives are building expertise – internally and externally. And they're using technology to manage orders.

While supply chain concerns are still significant, the percent of executives reporting each concern has dropped slightly since 2012.

The economy and growth
Healthcare executives' views on the economic recovery are more mixed. When asked how the economy was affecting healthcare businesses, 50 percent of healthcare executives reported that their businesses still felt the impact of the economic downturn, 40 percent found that the impact had started to ease, and 10 percent were not sure.

But healthcare companies are poised for growth. Looking out five years, executives reported they planned to spearhead this growth by:

  • Investing in new technologies
  • Tapping new global markets
  • Using new distribution channels and models

Download the details
Download the eBook Executive Summary for:  

  • The facts and figures that support these findings
  • Information on the differences among the results for North America, Asia and Western Europe
  • Videos in which Robin Hooker, UPS director of global strategy, expands on these issues


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