Survey: Orthopedic Supply Chain Faces Familiar Challenges Amidst COVID Complexities

Orthopedic supply chain complexities are no doubt exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. But a survey conducted by BONEZONE found that the supply chain and OEM/supplier relationships remain solid.

The survey respondents included executives, sourcing and purchasing managers and new product directors from 64 OEM companies. How has COVID-19 has impacted supply chain relationships? Strained but stable was how 42% of respondents defined relationships, while 34% of OEMs said relationships are about the same and 16% responded that relationships are stronger as a result of COVID.

Orthopedic companies will continue to operate amidst uncertainty in 2021, and the strength of partner relationships will be crucial to handling supply chain challenges.

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Orthopedic Supply Chain Challenges

The multifaceted and global nature of the orthopedic supply chain routinely creates challenges for orthopedic companies.

When asked about the single biggest challenge facing their supply chains, 35% of OEMs said continuity of supply. About 25% of respondents noted regulatory pressures, while 15% called out risk management.

Orthopedic Supply Chain Survey biggest challenges

Orthopedic Supply Chain Support

While the orthopedic supply chain faces new pandemic challenges, OEMs signaled that they need traditional support from supplier partners.

When asked over the next 12 months about areas in which they could most use more help from suppliers, unsurprisingly, 78% of OEMs cited lead times and about 62% said cost reductions. Nearly half of OEMs said that they seek assistance with proactive communication and inventory management and delivery.

Orthopedic Supply Chain Survey supplier help

Looking Forward

Overall, orthopedic OEMs said they experienced disruptions from COVID, EU Medical Device Regulation and Brexit in 2020—all issues that will extend into 2021 with varying degrees of unknowns. However, numerous opportunities abound for the orthopedic supply chain. While not always easy in practice, OEMs noted opportunities to optimize forecasting, proactively communicate with suppliers, and identify efficiencies for cost savings.


Carolyn LaWell is ORTHOWORLD’s Chief Content Officer.

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