The Antifragility Effect: Deploying Emerging Tech in Medical Device Supply Networks to Rebuild Better
University College London Centre for Blockchain Technologies 2021
21 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2021
Date Written: September 9, 2021
The research presented in this paper is aimed at determining how emerging technology and specifically blockchain can be deployed to improve the reliability of medical device supply chains. As the current pandemic crisis has clearly demonstrated, global supply chains have become highly efficient and cost-effective at the cost of agility. As the pandemic developed into a global crisis, the vulnerability of supply chains became apparent in the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) due to overreliance on a limited number of sources coupled with the challenge of stepping up production on short notice. In 2021, the shortage of medical oxygen in India revealed another vulnerability in that precious time was lost in pivoting the existing oxygen supply from industrial to medical usage. Over the centuries, and still today in military scenarios, supply chain security has hinged on stockpiling of goods and materials, an extremely costly and inefficient practice.
If the global medical device industry can learn from these shocks and adapt global supply chains for greater reliability and resilience, the end result will be positive – an antifragile response (Taleb, Nassim Nicholas 2012). We hypothesize that it is indeed possible to enhance supply chains without massive stockpiling based on distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain. A real-life example in Colombia with plans for rollout across Latin America demonstrates what this can look like in practice and adds weight to our hypothesis. However, more research and broader adoption of DLT and blockchain across medical device supply chains are required to realize the potential of technology to improve reliability, resilience and robustness.
Keywords: Technology, blockchain, healthcare, medical supplies, supply chain, distributed ledger technology, Colombia, Latin America, DLT, medical device supply chain, reliability, resilience, robustness, PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, pandemic, COVID-19, cost of agility
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