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Slack, the fastest growing B2B software application of all time, has quickly captivated the modern business world by improving the way teams communicate.  By delivering an experience that can replace internal email, enable file sharing, integrate with core external systems and make collaboration fun and productive, Slack has improved the way teams communicate and organize their information.  Given these obvious benefits, what can the sudden mass adoption of a communication and collaboration app teach an industry that historically lags behind in administrative technology and struggles with communication?

In the healthcare supply chain, providers and suppliers are searching for new ways to streamline processes and gain operational transparency to drive out costs. This proves to be a challenge.  In an article by Beckers Hospital Review, Strategies for Healthcare Supply Chain Collaboration: Improving Operations, Reducing Costs, “collaboration isn’t easy because of conflicting priorities, segmentation, and lack of communication inherent in the healthcare supply chain.” Perhaps a communication platform, such as Slack, could immediately remove some of the barriers and offer more productive interactions.
“Slack has changed how we work,” says Josh Childs, Product Manager for OpenMarkets. “Our internal email has been cut by 90% and our team communication has vastly improved. I know supply chain leaders face challenges communicating with clinicians, administrators and suppliers – if they had the ability to use Slack or a Slack-like application, there would certainly be more transparency and process improvements.”
So, what would Slack, or a Slack-like application, look like for healthcare supply chain stakeholders?  
Slack starts with a simple user interface organizing your communication stream. You set up channels to group together related conversations, such as “Capital Equipment” or “Cardiology.” Within these channels, multiple stakeholders can contribute ideas, ask questions, upload and store documents and carry on conversations about relevant supply chain issues.
Previous conversations are archived and searchable, which helps teams maintain transparency. Nobody has to chase down information through stacks of paper or wait until people are back in their office. 
Reducing our dependence on email may seem crazy at first, but as supply chain leaders think about the sheer amount of inbound messages they have to sort through, I think they’ll embrace the notion of finding a better way to communicate,” continues Childs. “One drawback for the healthcare supply chain is that Slack is internally focused – meaning you wouldn’t be able to streamline provider and supplier communications. That’s a huge area of inefficiency – the back and forth between supply chain and suppliers via phone, email and in-person meetings drives up the cost of equipment, devices and everything else, and chews up an enormous amount of time.”
Our judgement is that Slack can improve the healthcare supply chain, just not all the way. By implementing Slack and other communication platforms, healthcare supply chain teams can begin to remove major pain points in their process – mainly, a lack of collaboration.

Tom Derrick

Tom leads a range of core functions for OpenMarkets, including strategic partnerships and marketing. Prior to OpenMarkets, Tom served as a senior communications director for... More about Tom Derrick