An Improvement for the Pharmaceutical Value Chain: Using Lean Methodologies to Create a Patient-Centered Supply Chain
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The pharmaceutical supply chain and medication-use process function to deliver medications to the right patients at the right time. Together, these two segments form the pharmaceutical value chain. The processes of the pharmaceutical value chain have become more complex, with new technology, new types of therapeutics, changing supply chain designs, and stringent government regulations. However, these changes also offer many opportunities for pharmaceutical value chains to increase value for patients. Value is a function of quality, service, and cost; every organization in the pharmaceutical value chain impacts these three variables. The most important variable is quality, since a lack of quality could translate to a medication error that could cause the patient an adverse drug event. To reduce medication errors and resultant adverse drug events, pharmaceutical value chain organizations must consider process improvements with the goal of maximizing value for the patient. Lean methodologies and tools provide an improvement framework that can help achieve greater value. This includes concepts such as continuous, incremental improvement, multi-level employee involvement, experimental thinking, standardization of processes, and error-proofing.