We are saving lives by bridging the information gap between Asian medical suppliers and US healthcare providers to combact COVID-19
Ruyi Huang, Juan Juan Huang, Liansai Dong, Lucien Carroll, Sai Ouyang, Angie Jin
Medical supply chain teams are stretched thin
In hospital supply chain teams, everyone's heads are spinning right now. With the current and projected needs of the next few months of caring for COVID-19 patients, they are swamped by pallets of orders coming into the hospitals and distributing them. At the same time, these essential medical supplies will not be enough, and so they are looking for more supplies to buy for supporting daily operations and patients waiting to be admitted.
An information gap in the supply chain is risking lives
With hospitals and emergency response agencies across the country all trying to find more supplies at the same time, the domestic supply is all claimed, and many medical supply sourcing teams are considering dealing with international suppliers for the first time. Meanwhile, Asian manufacturers are producing more than is needed for their domestic markets now that COVID-19 infections are getting under control there. However, many of these businesses also have little if any experience dealing with US customers, and might not have obtained US certification for new product lines. Already we have seen a surge of brokers and hoarders taking advantage of this information gap, trying make offers that would put patients and care providers in danger or stressing the finances of medical delivery systems that are already bearing a heavy burden fighting COVID-19:
- $9 for 3M 1860 mask with regular retail price of $1?
- $100K for a home CPAP model with regular retail price of $1299?
- $10 for a hand-sanitizer without alcohol ingredients with regular retail tag of $0.99?
- 100% pre-payment with no shipping date guaranteed?
- $8000 for taking a look at a ventilator spec list?
- "My neighbor knows so-and-so who might know so can get us some masks. FDA certifications? Oh, what's that?"
This is what our hospital supply chain teams are experiencing everyday. They risk wasting time on so much shenanigans and bad business practices, while patients are dying and our physicians and nurses are short of basic PPE at work. We see how impacted the entire supply chain department in large hospital systems are and can't imagine how under-resourced the small hospitals, community clinics and city emergency response departments are.
We can help
This situation motivated Angie to reach out to her networks in United States, China and Korea for help. With the advantages of having friends in the medical field and medical supply manufacturing side, we were able to quickly connect the demand directly with legitimate supply. After more and more manufacturers and suppliers reach out, we realized that this process is scalable and could help a whole lot more hospitals and people.
How can we help here? Med-Supply.Life is helping to save lives by connecting US hospitals with Asian manufacturers to combat COVID-19.
- The Med-Supply.Life website is a portal for manufacturer and hospital representatives (Squarespace)
- We guide manufacturers to publish/release product information required by US buyers (Shimuo.im Forms, WeChat)
- We consolidate and check product information against FDA and CDC regulations and reports, and checking business records in country (Tableau, Access)
- We collect medical equipment needs from verified hospital contacts (Google Forms, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
- We recommend sources with compatible documentation and inventory capacity
Simply submit hospital needs on our website and we will connect you with reliable supplier resources that has registered with us for qualified FDA / CDC clearance products. Our team of volunteers are providing these services at no cost to either the hospitals or the manufacturers. The tools and process we have established over the past week has already resulted in matching a hospital with 3.5 million surgical masks, and we are working on matching other requests from 6 hospitals to our database of over 75 manufacturers.
After the initial collection and checking of manufacturer and product information, the ideal workflow is similar to a marketplace, where manufacturers can maintain their own catalogs of inventory, and hospital representatives can search across all catalogs for sources to meet their needs. As we look to scale out our services to more hospitals and emergency response agencies, we have begun planning to migrate the data into a marketplace site using WooCommerce and WCFM Marketplace.