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Lead Times will Make or Break the Healthcare Industry

In the healthcare industry, time is one of the most valuable assets. 

Hospitals can’t afford to waste time waiting for the supplies that they need to perform their daily jobs, which is why lead times for healthcare equipment are a huge factor in the purchasing decision. The importance of lead times and the supply chain was highlighted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with healthcare facilities struggling to get the essential supplies that they desperately needed. In fact, around 60-80% of healthcare organizations reported that they experienced delays or increased lead times since the beginning of the pandemic. A common response to these unexpected delays was for facilities to increase their inventory so that they didn’t have to rely on third parties to deliver solid lead times.  

 There are many common challenges that the healthcare industry can run into when it comes to lead times including: 

 Supply Issues

One of the most common problems that healthcare facilities experience is issues with the supply of the product they need. Many suppliers won’t have the product on hand and have to either get it shipped or manufactured specifically for an order. This can be a lengthy process and cause an extensive increase to lead times. The onset of COVID really exposed how bad this problem can become. At the beginning of the pandemic everybody was scrambling to get the supplies that were needed, such as PPE. That is exactly where the issue started because everyone around the world needed the same supplies, and the US was largely dependent on foreign countries, such as China, to supply these products. However, China and other large manufacturing countries in the region needed the supplies for themselves, meaning that the amount that were able to get shipped to the US went down drastically. This caused many US hospitals to struggle to get various supplies and equipment they needed to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.  

 The pandemic is obviously an unexpected circumstance that nobody was prepared for, but it certainly showed the downfalls of the healthcare supply chain and exposed the problems that can arise from increased lead times due to supply issues.  

Damaged Products

Another issue that hospitals experience when purchasing equipment and supplies is damaged products. There’s not much worse than having to wait a grueling amount of time for equipment to be delivered only to find it has been damaged when it finally arrives. This causes serious problems and is likely more common than you would think. A facility then has to report the damaged products and wait even more time for its replacement to come. Products arriving damaged are an issue that happens in most industries, but in the healthcare industry it can be a more serious issue than others if the product is needed to treat a patient.  

Third Party Issues

Many suppliers to the healthcare industry rely on third party freight companies to handle the shipment and delivery of their products. This usually isn’t an issue and is a very normal way for large suppliers to handle their business. However, this can also become a problem if there’s poor communication between the supplier and the freight company, or if the freight company experiences internal problems, because those usually translate into extended lead times.  

 There are many common challenges that can cause lead times to increase, and in the healthcare industry that can be extremely time-sensitive, this is something that cannot be acceptable in certain situations.  

 As a supplier to the healthcare industry, Lakeside Manufacturing understands the importance of lead times and works to minimize the amount of time that you’re waiting from order to arrival. The average lead time in the healthcare industry can vary depending on many different factors, but it’s not uncommon for equipment to take multiple months to actually be delivered to a facility after it has been ordered. Lakeside is able to deliver unmatched lead times of 3-4 weeks on our mobile equipment in order to get your hospital running smoothly as soon as possible.  

Here’s a great example of a medical cart project where we were able to deliver top-notch lead times and quality even when the equipment wasn’t one of our standard products. A government entity in Asia needed carts that were to be manned by autonomous vehicles in order to transport PPE and other supplies around a makeshift COVID-19 hospital during the pandemic. There were many challenges that came along with the project, but time was the biggest factor in the manufacturing of these carts as they were needed as soon as possible to reduce the number of interactions between staff and potentially contagious patients. We were able to develop laser cut carts that allowed for precise fitting with multiple sized autonomous vehicles while sourcing specialty casters from Australia and wire from China to ensure the right materials were used. The carts were then preassembled to allow for immediate use upon their arrival to the Asian government entity. This was a very precise project with an intense timeline and various challenges that we were able to overcome in order to deliver these carts, from design to doorstep, in less than a month.  

 Lakeside understands that lead times can make or break a healthcare facility in some situations, which is why we are dedicated to providing the top quality products in the least amount of time. Contact us for lead times on our equipment, and let’s figure out the best solution for your facility.  

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