Learning New Things in Healthcare Supply Chain

March 30, 2018 By: Senior Management | Topics: Automation & Robotics, Healthcare


Golfing great Bobby Jones once said of Jack Nicklaus: “Jack plays a brand of golf with which I am not familiar,” a phrase which Nicklaus himself was to repeat later as he watched the exploits of one Eldrick (Tiger) Woods.

Time changes everything. Sports and the athletes who play them evolve. If a baseball player from the 1920s were to come back today to a major league venue, he would be blown away by the quality of the equipment, by the specialization within the game, by the size and appointments within the stadiums and, of course, by the players’ salaries.

A year and a half ago I came to Sedlak as a 40+ year veteran of the healthcare supply chain. Within my realm, I had garnered a reputation as an industry thought leader (and style-setter). I was an early implementer of many elements of the modern supply chain, including the trial of a very early Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) application at Baptist Hospital of Miami in 1980. There wasn’t much I didn’t know about the healthcare supply chain.

Or so I thought.

When I walked into Sedlak, I thought my charge was to teach these Industrial Engineers about healthcare and how and why it was different than the retail world in which they had made such a profound mark.

Instead, it is I who have been taught. I have attended scores of “Lunch and Learns” where equipment and other system vendors have come to present to the staff. I have watched and listened and taken notes about acronyms and abbreviations with which I was not familiar, and I have gone on site visits with many of the Sedlak experts including Patrick Sedlak and Will O’Brien, two of the firm’s executives, and more than anything else, I have learned three things:

  1. Healthcare’s knowledge, understanding and placement of the Supply Chain (SC) in the grand scheme of its operations lags distantly behind that of other industries. For most healthcare organizations, the SC still holds a transactional and operational niche, not a strategic one. Many healthcare SC leaders focus their activities on areas such as contracting, purchased services management, staffing, product standardization and value analysis, management of relationships with physicians and other key “operational influencers,” and spend very little time on the actual flow of “stuff” through the system – pre-planning to disposition or utilization. Consequently, many healthcare organizations’ operations resemble a page from the 1960s.
  2. Stuff is stuff. Healthcare SC leaders spend their entire careers trying to convince the world around them that the exigencies caused by government regulation, physician demands and the distinctiveness of every single patient from every other patient makes the healthcare SC impossible to manage by the strategies used in the “simpler” realm of retail and industry. I have learned that virtually everything faced by healthcare SC leaders is also faced in other industries and all that is needed is a “Universal Translator,” in this case – me. Once the translation has been completed, stuff becomes stuff and the Industrial Engineers can use their tools to optimize.
  3. ​Opportunities are overlooked. In baseball, four straight singles will produce at least one run, yet everyone honors the home run hitter. A good analysis of current logistics, courier services and distribution operations will often reveal opportunities to reduce costs associated with those functions by as much as 10-20%.


Sedlak has helped numerous companies in the healthcare industry streamline processes, optimize supply chain operations, and achieve cost savings. To learn more, complete the Contact Us form below.

Subscribe For Insights

"*" indicates required fields

By clicking submit below, you consent to allow Sedlak to store and process the personal information submitted above to provide you the content requested. You can unsubscribe from these communications at any time.

Recent Posts
View All

A team of Sedlak consultants recently attended MODEX, a leading conference for manufacturing and supply chain professionals that focuses on innovation, technology and networking. The team that attended included David Teeple and Michael Davis, both Directors of Client Services; Ryan Prahler, Client Executive; Rob Bober, Manager; and Brian Donnelly, Senior Consultant.

In this episode of the Unboxing Fulfillment podcast, host Harry Drajpuch interviews David Teeple, Director of Client Services at Sedlak Supply Chain Consultants. Sedlak is a comprehensive supply chain and distribution logistics advisory firm that has been in business since 1958.

As a supply chain professional, you need to better understand how current automation movements can impact your business. Automation in the Supply Chain from Processes to Robotics, which is a recorded session from Sedlak’s 2023 virtual event series, Balancing People, Systems and Automation, looks at which processes are being automated within the supply chain, as […]

If you went to ProMat in Chicago this spring, you saw hundreds of robots performing distribution tasks including storage, retrieval, pick assist and sortation. At Sedlak, we are fortunate to be brought up to speed on these technologies on a regular basis when vendors schedule a lunch hour with us to demonstrate their offerings and […]