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Do you know where your medical device is?

At this very moment, there’s likely billions of dollars of medical device inventory in the supply chain that has left manufacturer facilities, yet hasn’t been paid for yet. “About 70% of orthopedic devices, for instance, are out of manufacturer control and on consignment in hospital inventory closets or distributor warehouses or in field sales representative custody,” explains John Menna, UPS vice president, global healthcare strategy. As a result, “manufacturers are asking for help in better managing this inventory and providing visibility in the supply chain.”

At the same time, however, these manufacturers want to continue to provide the inventory needed to support medical procedures at U.S. hospitals that require a flexible product supply.

To allow manufacturers to offer such inventory flexibility yet minimize the amount of inventory in the supply chain, UPS is developing a healthcare-compliant network of 36 Field Stocking Locations (FSLs) in the United States offering reduced delivery time of medical device shipments. “These facilities, which are existing UPS facilities, will now feature sectioned-off compliant areas strictly for medical devices and can reach about 80% of U.S. hospital beds within 4 hours,” he says.

UPS has handled medical devices in its warehouses before, especially in its larger, global distribution centers. But “this FSL network consists of much smaller warehouses facilities to stage medical devices closer to where surgeries take place,” he says.

These medical-device focused facilities will offer same-day delivery services and temperature-controlled or monitored environments, while operating under the guidance of UPS’s quality assurance and compliance program.

A real-time inventory management system based on UPS’s standard system and processes was modified for the medical device industry for cGMP compliance, Menna adds. And “as Unique Device Identification is required to be captured for specific devices, we can adjust our process as needed,” he says.

There may be other benefits for manufacturers and their field representatives beyond inventory control. “There could be less of a paperwork burden for staff, allowing them to spend more time on the clinical side with surgeons,” he adds.

The FSL network also offers the ability to use the facilities for return of unused products, he says.

When asked whether the four-hour delivery and real-time monitoring program would increase supply-chain and inventory costs, Menna says that “our studies indicate that the program should drive down total supply-chain costs. The inventory savings are potentially significant and would offset any increases from expedited delivery.”

There are a number of solutions for transporting products in a temperature-controlled manner, including the use of active containers, as part of the UPS Temperature True transportation and risk mitigation solutions, explains Menna. “We can monitor conditions in transit, and if there is any potential for going out of temperature range, we follow SOPs for intervention.”

In addition to these 36 U.S.-based medical device FSLs, UPS maintains healthcare-dedicated and compliant warehousing and distribution facilities worldwide. UPS’s broader FSL network features more than 950 locations globally and has been in place since 1995.

For more information on UPS's healthcare logistics expertise and solutions, visit: www.ups.com/healthcare.

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