Behind the Scenes of the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition

Taylor Wilkerson from MITRE shares a behind the scenes on CSCR®'s involvement with more than 800 companies in the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition for supply chain.

It is no secret that the pandemic has changed not only the lives of every person in the world but also how supply chains are operating and working together.

The hands-on support of supply chain professionals has been astounding, and CSCR® is proud to join the efforts, along with other ambitious companies, to work and help the country respond to the COVID-19 pandemic on the business side.

It was in this way that the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition was born.

Taylor Wilkerson from MITRE has been facilitating the #supplychain working group after MITRE was approached by the Mayo Clinic, MIT faculty, and Leavitt Partners to manage the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition’s data-driven, real-time insights.

These insights improve clinical outcomes and help save lives.

More than 800 companies that have joined agree to make public interest the top priority. These companies include Amazon Web Services, Google, Cerner, Intermountain Health, along with CSCR®. 

“We are focused on addressing supply chain issues related to COVID-19, from material shortages to anticipating future requirements,” Wilkerson explained. “As a co-lead, my role is to facilitate and manage working group activities and coordinate partner interactions, providing my supply chain expertise when applicable.”

Best part? There are no contracts involved. No conversations over who benefits more, who owns the rights to what information and what the costs will be.

“We are working together, debating the best solution, conducting analysis, and sharing our findings broadly on so that decision-makers may benefit,” Wilkerson said.

This has allowed for a myriad of accomplishments by the coalition.

These include working with international suppliers to deliver 575,000 FDA-certified respirators – KN95 masks – to New York City hospitals, working through Governor Cuomo’s procurement office as well as connecting 100,000 FDA-certified respirators to Masks for America to deliver protective masks directly to frontline healthcare workers in COVID-19 hotspots.

The coalition has also prepared guidelines, assisted with purchases, and piloted novel solutions to decontaminate respirators so they can be reused multiple times, extending their lifecycle at a time when each mask counts. ·

“[We have also published] the customizable COVID-19 US State Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPI) dashboard to track state-level non-pharmaceutical implementations and confirmed COVID-19 cases, [as well as helped] Mayo Clinic manage a national convalescent plasma trial, which is attracting thousands of health systems and patients,” Wilkerson added.

The coalition’s success stemmed further, however, as teams began to notice that diverse organizations pooling their resources together has allowed for greater analytics distribution and problem-solving potential.

One such example is the demand model that the team has been developing.

“The initial concept was to focus on personal protective equipment (PPE) use in hospitals; however, discussions in the working group soon led to the conclusion that a PPE consumption model must include use in multiple sectors, including first responders, long-term care, and other essential workers,” Wilkerson said. “This is making our model a better predictor of PPE need, providing more accurate information.”

But it’s also important to note the change in the industry.

COVID-19 has single-handedly curated a demand shock for healthcare supply chains.

The high number of infections together with the highly contagious nature and other uncertainties of the disease required clinicians and other hospital staff to take additional precautions and use more and higher-grade PPE than usual.

“With this happening around the world, the increased use quickly created demands that outpaced supply capacity, resulting in shortages exacerbated by the pandemic’s origins in China, where much of the PPE is manufactured,” Wilkerson explained. “The extended shut down of production facilities in China meant that, rather than scaling up capacity to meet demand, many facilities were losing roughly a month of production.”

Yet, the bright side is there and glowing, as the coalition found how supply chain personnel, whether it be storeroom clerks or senior leaders, are coming up with creative solutions and alternatives to products/materials, like regenerating N95 respirators.

“I am confident that the supply chain in 2021 will look different than the supply chain of 2019,” Wilkerson said. “I personally think we will see supply chains diversify suppliers across multiple geographies, not just multiple suppliers, advanced manufacturing methods will be integrated into supply chains to support rapid production surges, and reusable products will become a focus to put less reliance on production capacities.”

As they say, not all heroes wear capes, and the coalition is out there every day, thinking outside the box, creating, rather, a network rife with opportunity and possibility: the necessary instruments that will get us all through these unchartered waters.

To read more about the critical work that the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition is doing, you can access this link.