Rethinking the Medical Supply Chain at Shanghai General Hospital
With hundreds of suppliers providing a medical inventory that delivers medicine to nearly 4 million patients a year, Shanghai General Hospital is looking for new ways to improve its medical supply chain. The current system not only takes up too much of pharmacists' time for menial stock-taking duties, but is also labor intensive and prone to error. Wang Xingpeng, the hospital's chief executive, wants to better utilize medical professionals' time and allow pharmacists to do more clinical work for patients. Further complicating the issue is a new set of government rules that will require hospitals to sell medicine at cost, meaning that what was once an income source will soon become a cost burden. The hospital is planning to establish a new supply system with one of its suppliers, Shanghai Pharmaceutical. How should the new system address existing issues? And as Wang reviews the strategic partnership, how can he align the new partner's interests with the hospital's objectives? This case demonstrates the components of a medical supply chain in a hospital and the challenges associated with managing such a supply chain. It allows students to discuss ways to streamline the supply chain. The case can also be used to explore topics in strategic partnerships, in particular, vendor-managed inventory systems, and offers background for discussion of the risks and considerations when introducing a third- party strategic partner into the supply chain.