In November 2021, McKinsey & Company published an interesting article on how to boost excellence and innovation in clinical supply chains that are relevant to today’s industry practices. What I found most compelling was how a best-in-class clinical supply chain could change and adapt to accommodate decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) and personalized medicine; specifically, cell and gene therapies.
The article benchmarked several performance parameters such as service, quality, and waste, and then outlined six ways to realize the benefits of pursuing operational excellence. The points made and the examples used were informative and I found myself carefully considering each of the suggestions. The article then outlined four rapid assessments that could be used by supply chain managers to get started.
While the points made were excellent and the examples of what companies are doing to change were useful, each example highlighted only a general reconfiguration for change rather than providing a more detailed understanding of how companies are working to actually achieve focused improvements for wide-ranging transformations. I realize that this article was a summary, but it would have been great if additional “how-to” information was provided or if the authors would do a follow-on article that goes into the details. I also believe it would have been very helpful to clinical supply chain managers if examples of cross-over reconfiguration activities were included. For instance, most companies have already utilized some form of operational excellence activities when they adopted the On-Demand concept or the Direct-to-Patient (DtP) services. They most likely followed something very similar to the six ways to reconfigure the clinical supply model as noted in the article. When Clinical Supplies Management, Inc. created the On-Demand and DtP concepts 20 years ago, they utilized steps similar to the six steps outlined, as well as others (e.g. rethink regulatory requirements for a more complete understanding of regulatory intent). During the development of the On-Demand and DtP concepts operational excellence was considered, such as, complexities of clinical trials, waste, flexibility, and cell and gene therapies. Thus, I believe the points made in the article continue to provide clinical supply managers with timeless and simple steps they can use to keep pace and adapt to the future of clinical trials.