A mature Caucasian man in a clinical setting being swabbed by a healthcare worker
A mature Caucasian man in a clinical setting being swabbed by a healthcare worker in protective garb to determine if he has contracted the coronavirus. Shutterstock

Today IBM announced an all-new blockchain-based network, called IBM Rapid Supplier Connect, with the intent to aid in finding non-traditional suppliers of medical protective equipment, supplies and devices that come in short but are in need to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The network is aimed at healthcare organizations and government offices and is part of IBM’s effort to help as much as possible in the battle against COVID-19 via tech services that facilitate the spread of reliable information, flexibility, and faster discovery of supplies. 

Some of the first Rapid Supplier Connect affiliates are New York’s largest healthcare provider and private employer – Northwell Health and the nonprofit Worldwide Supply Chain Federation. All licensed suppliers and buyers in the United States and Canada can join the network free of charge until August 31, 2020.

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Northwell Health vice president and chief procurement officer, Phyllis McCready shared:

“Northwell Health has had adequate supplies to protect patients and our staff during the increase in New York COVID-19 patient cases. It is through creating our own GPOs and supply chain, and joining forces with non-traditional suppliers that we have maintained an adequate stockpile of PPE and other equipment and supplies, so we are pleased to join IBM Rapid Supplier Connect.”

These exceptional healthcare challenges disrupted the supply chains and whole industries to an alarming level, causing many companies to re-organize their mass production and manufacture masks and other protective equipment, and whatever essential supplies they can. 

All hospitals, pharmacies, and state procurement departments that want to purchase equipment from these non-traditional suppliers in big proportions need to identify them as a first step. This is where Rapid Supplier Connect provides information on the real-time inventory availability and even excess supplies that are being unused – that way healthcare organizations can sidetrack provisions to where they are needed the most.  

The network allows buyers to take advantage of a wider scope of suppliers that are usually not part of the common supply chain. Not only that, but buyers can also benefit from immediate inventory information, smooth supplier onboarding mechanism, validation checks, user feedback, and portable online identity. 

To accomplish instantaneous observation on a very unstable supply chain, IBM utilized its highly scalable Inventory Visibility microservice and Sterling Supply Chain Suite, in combination with Chainyard’s blockchain-based identity platform – Trust Your Supplier.    

IBM’s new network perfectly enriches some already existing supply chain networks, but grants suppliers with the possibility to use a third-party payment system as well, namely CDAX. As a paymaster, CDAX will secure collateral on behalf of the buyer in a settlement account and will hold on to the products coming from the supplier, until the order has been accepted. Other contributors to the cause are as follows:

  • Project N95 will act as the national clearinghouse for personal protective COVID-related equipment.
  • Dun & Bradstreet will help with firmographic data, identity resolution, and supplier risk and viability scores.
  • KYC SiteScan will contribute its “Know Your Business” due diligence report access.
  • Thomson Reuters will grant access to its CLEAR customer due diligence tool i.e. buyers will have access to real-time data to vet suppliers and recognize potential risks.
  • RapidRatings will provide financial health data on suppliers

The process of joining the network should take around 30 minutes with IBM also providing an operational support center. 

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