Rob Glenn Rob Glenn
Vice President, Global Resilience
Nicolette Louissaint, PhD Nicolette Louissaint, PhD
SVP, Policy & Strategic Planning, Healthcare Distribution Alliance


January 18, 2024


The delivery of healthcare resources in the U.S. is critical to ensuring the health and well-being of the American public. Supply chain disruptions, regardless of cause but most pronounced in disasters, can threaten the availability of these resources, with significant public health implications.

Healthcare supply chain resilience refers to the ability of the healthcare system to adapt to and recover from various disruptions. This helps ensure the continuous availability and accessibility of essential medical supplies and services efficiently and effectively.

Many stakeholders ranging from manufacturers to healthcare providers must align functionally and collaboratively to mitigate threats to healthcare supply chains. In a varied and complex, post-pandemic landscape, all sectors now realize their connection to healthcare supply chains. As we move forward together, enhancing their adaptation and responsiveness are essential to preparing for the next public health crisis or climate disaster.  

Here are a few key steps to building a resilient healthcare supply chain.

Tenets for Building Resilience in Healthcare Supply Chains 

  • Diversify Suppliers: Having multiple suppliers for critical resources can help ensure continuity of supply in case of disruptions from a single source or geography.
  • Leverage Commercial Capacity: Maintaining replenishable strategic stockpiles of critical resources can help mitigate the effects of initial supply chain disruptions, allowing the commercial capacity to catch up to meet the new demand to reduce additional disruption.
  • Anticipate Risk: Identifying and assessing potential risks to the supply chain, such as natural disasters and pandemics, can help organizations prepare for and respond to disruptions.
  • Build Agility: Building flexibility into the supply chain, such as quickly shifting production to different products or suppliers, can help organizations adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Collaborate Consistently: Collaborating with other organizations and stakeholders can help share information, resources, and expertise to manage supply chain disruptions better and build supply chain competence.
  • Prepare for All-Hazards: Conducting regular testing and exercises to simulate different disruption scenarios will help organizations prepare and respond to inevitable disruptions.
  • Plan Inclusively: Involving a diverse group of stakeholders, including representatives from marginalized communities, in the planning and decision-making process can help ensure that the needs of all groups are considered.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s disaster response and resiliency portfolio harnesses the power of business through activating purpose-driven private-public partnerships. These collaborations aim to implement innovative solutions to build a stronger today and more resilient tomorrow. The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), in partnership with the U.S. Chamber Foundation, facilitated a roundtable at the 2022 Business Solves Conference, focusing on key topics such as addressing product shortages, private-public collaboration, and best practices for risk reduction strategies.

The roundtable, comprised of representatives from the private sector, non-profits, and the federal government, highlighted that while healthcare supply chain issues were widely discussed during the pandemic, a deep understanding of the realities faced by those managing global supply chain networks was often lacking. This conversation led to the creation of key insights, including the tenets stated above, for healthcare supply chain resilience every day, reducing the need for extraordinary measures and addressing the fragilities and disconnects exposed by the pandemic. Using these tenets across public and private sectors can improve not just the resilience of healthcare supply chains but communities nationally when disruptions and disasters occur and the need for helping people through medical care is a no-fail requirement.   

The Task Ahead 

By bringing together public and private sector leaders to identify challenges and collaborate on solutions, the healthcare supply chain can be resilient and adaptable to crises and scenarios beyond our control. Preparedness, education, adaptability, and collaboration are key to navigating this ever-evolving landscape. The lessons from the global pandemic underscore the necessity of understanding and fortifying the very supply chains that underpin our healthcare market.

Through structured, ongoing dialogue and the implementation of robust principles, we can build a more resilient system that is ready to meet future challenges head-on. Whether facing a pandemic or any unforeseen challenge, focused collaboration is vital to ensure that the healthcare system remains effective and responsive, delivering care to those in need under any circumstances. In this journey, aligning cross-functional efforts, ensuring equitable access, empowering the workforce, and leveraging emerging technologies will be instrumental in shaping a sustainable and resilient healthcare future.

Business Solves Roundtable: Building Toward Healthcare Supply Chain Resilience

Delve further into this crucial topic by reading the comprehensive report.

About the authors

Rob Glenn

Rob Glenn

Rob coordinates the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation's efforts to connect government and private sector capabilities and expertise, enabling readiness for all hazards and advancing resilience.

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Nicolette Louissaint, PhD

Nicolette Louissaint, PhD

Dr. Nicolette Louissaint serves as the senior vice president for policy and strategic planning for the Healthcare Distribution Alliance.

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