COVID-19 has greatly affected supply chains as factories and businesses close around the world, creating new challenges for workers and consumers. Healthcare workers and other first responders understand firsthand the impact that the current pandemic is having on supply chains in their race to acquire PPE. Supply chains are stretched incredibly thin, and while businesses have reorganized to begin producing critical goods, from apparel companies making masks or automotive companies making ventilators, these companies are typically disconnected from the healthcare procurement system. Now, these unconventional suppliers can be matched with healthcare facilities and government agencies in urgent need.
As part of its approach to combating COVID-19 with technology solutions, IBM recently announced Rapid Supplier Connect. Rapid Supplier Connect is a blockchain-based network to help government agencies and healthcare organizations identify new, non-traditional suppliers who have pivoted to address the shortage of equipment, devices and supplies needed for COVID-19 relief efforts. To help combat the current shortages, many large and small businesses from outside the traditional healthcare procurement system are reconfiguring to mass produce masks, gowns and other essential supplies. In order to begin purchasing from them at scale, buyers — including hospitals, state procurement divisions, pharmacies and others — need help identifying these new suppliers, efficiently vetting and on-boarding them, and understanding in real-time their inventory availability. This new network also helps identify existing supplies and excess inventory going unused, allowing hospitals to redirect excess supplies to where they are needed most.
Suppliers and buyers currently joining the network include hospitals and other organizations such as some of New York's largest healthcare providers, and The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation, which is onboarding more than 200 American suppliers from its 3,000 global community members. Rapid Supplier Connect is available at no cost until August 31, 2020 to qualifying buyers and suppliers in the United States and Canada.