Putting patients first in Amgen’s supply chain
Biotechnology company Amgen provides treatments for patients who suffer from severe diseases. It focuses on six therapeutic areas: cardiovascular disease, oncology, bone health, hematology, nephrology and inflammation. Research is at the heart of the company, and so are patients. ‘Every patient, Every time’ is Amgen’s motto. In today’s volatile and uncertain world, getting the right product at the right time and place, proves more difficult than ever. How can Amgen’s supply chain management organization rise to the occasion? Not only keeping its promise to patients, but also adding value along the way? Daniëlle IJkema, Amgen’s Executive Director Supply Chain for the EMEA region, shares how she’s building a future-proof supply chain.
Daniëlle’s team is responsible for the supply chains of 70 different countries and regions: from the UK to Ukraine and from Saudi Arabia to Slovenia. EMEA’s supply chain is a complex puzzle: each country has its own market dynamics and (regulatory) frameworks.
Having worked at various locations worldwide, Daniëlle knows Amgen’s supply chain from inside and out. From a strategic and an operational perspective, having served at Amgen’s flagship production site in Puerto Rico and the company’s California headquarters.
But if you think she’s seen it all, think again. Daniëlle: “I’ve faced my share of challenges. In Puerto Rico, we faced hurricanes and flooding. But today it’s different. Supply chain disruptions have become a fact of everyday life now. Lockdowns, wildfires, flooding, war, geopolitical tensions, and also increased competition. It’s affecting our supply chains daily – and it’s not going away.” Keeping Amgen’s promise ‘Every patient, Every time’ proves more difficult than ever. Reason for Daniëlle to start building a more responsive supply chain organization.
Understanding the needs of customers and patients
The first step into building a resilient supply chain, is to adapt to patients’ needs. Daniëlle: “The team already worked on other Amgen projects, on value-based healthcare and customer engagement. It was only natural to tap into this knowledge and experience and take a systemic approach.”
Daniëlle’s team got some external support and, they reached out to Amgen’s commercial organization. Can you help us understand clients’ (hospitals, pharmacies, wholesalers, ed.) and patients’ needs? A combined team of consultants and team members interviewed Amgen’s employees that are active within various markets and therapeutic areas and collected their market insights. This resulted in ‘The Voice of the Customer’: a comprehensive overview of customers’ needs, wants, expectations, and preferences.
Daniëlle: “This was very insightful for us all. It provided a helicopter view and the right language to engage with other departments. You must know that Amgen is a rather focused organization. Everyone does what they do best: research, production, sales and marketing, supply chain. Using ‘the voice of the customer’ gave us a framework to work with other departments. Brainstorming about how we can all help improve Amgen’s services and products.”
This integrated approach generated lots of fresh ideas and connections. It also helped understand the added value of the supply chain organization better. Daniëlle: “If we’re involved from an early stage of new product development, we can help reduce the time-to-market of new treatments. If we work closer with our commercial organizations, we can reduce environmental impact across each market’s value chains.” Now, that’s added value!
It’s the kind of integrated approach that is needed to build a responsive supply chain, Daniëlle believes. “Until recently, keeping high stocks in the right conditions was the way to ensure every patient could receive its treatments in time. Nowadays, we need more creativity and coordination. What is the best route for this product, in this market, for this patient, under today’s conditions? That’s a different mindset. One that I’m proud to see my team has adopted throughout this process.”
Danielle IJkema, Amgen’s Executive Director Supply Chain for the EMEA region
Using data better
It’s not just a matter of mindset, though. Today’s digital possibilities create new opportunities too. Daniëlle: “There’s so much data. How can we turn this into useful information? Into insights my team can act upon. Analytics is one of the areas we’ll be investing in. Getting the right tools and the right skills on board. It’s one of the pillars of The Roadmap for the Future we’ve developed.”
The Roadmap for the Future provides a complete overview for the next three years. Using our patient-centric expertise, Daniëlle’s organization re-evaluated its own activities and opportunities for improvements. Next, all ideas and activities were prioritized into a Roadmap for the Future. What are the major topics to work on? Who’s responsible? What’s a long-term project – and what can we start today?
Contributing to sustainability
Another pillar in the roadmap is sustainability. Daniëlle explains: “Amgen has been working on its sustainability ambitions some time now. Now we’ve clearly defined how our team can contribute. For instance, we just started a pilot in Spain to digitize our leaflets. You must know that leaflets change every six months, due to new studies of side effects, new regulations etc. It’s my team’s responsibility to make sure the right information is enclosed in the right product for the right market. Printing, reprinting, and repackaging paper leaflets every few months. How about if we digitize this information? That prevents a lot of waste.” And there are more projects planned for the next three years.
Looking towards the future
What if Daniëlle looks a bit further? What’s her take on the future of healthcare? “I think the patient centricity will be even more important. People will be more engaged with their own health, even more than today. People will be using more technologies to track their health. Also, we’ll be facing labor shortages in healthcare in most EMEA countries. That’s why I think the focus will shift from ‘curing the patient’ to ‘staying healthy’. Clearly, Amgen’s challenge will be to ensure we’re part of this new ecosystem. Maybe we can welcome wellness providers or new kinds of preventative services as our clients. Or maybe there’s a new way or organizing such healthcare ecosystems? I love a good puzzle; this is certainly one I would like to solve!”
Surely Danielle is able come up with a good answer, since she is researching this topic for her PhD at the Amsterdam Business Research Institute.
Looking back at what has been done so far, what has surprised her most? Danielle: “I’m touched about how everyone at Amgen works with the patient in mind. Everyone knows someone with cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, cancer. In several cases we have friends or relatives using our products. No matter if you’re working in research, sales, or supply chain: Every patient, every time is what motivates us all.”
Thanks for sharing Amgen’s story, Daniëlle!
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