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Healthcare Collaboration: The Crucial Role of Medical Affairs & Supply Chain Management

Traditionally in the domain of pharma, we are seeing increasingly more Medical Affairs positions in medical devices companies. The products are different, yet the function remains similar – to engage and to add value.

The following is a real-world example of how a Medical Affairs Manager is adding value to optimal patient care by collaborating with their Supply Chain Manager during a time when the company’s products are being held up in a bottleneck.

This case study aims to highlight the importance of teamwork between these two roles and the potential positive outcomes for both healthcare professionals and patients.


A real-world example of successful collaboration between a Medical Affairs Manager and a Supply Chain Manager is the case of a hospital that faced a sudden increase in patient waiting times for a life-saving surgery. The delay was caused by a shortage of a specific medical device crucial for the procedure.

To tackle this issue, the Medical Affairs Manager took the initiative to coordinate with the clinical teams to explore possible alternatives. It was decided that any alternative products were not satisfactory, and that the original product was required.

Simultaneously, the Supply Chain Manager investigated the reasons behind the shortage by focusing on the reasons for the bottle neck.

The Medical Affairs Manager identified another hospital that had the medical device in their inventory and asked the Supply Chain Manager to contact them and arrange for shipment to the hospital that had run out.

With the hospital's management and clinical teams' approval, the two managers implemented their plan. The Supply Chain Manager, working closely with the Medical Affairs Manager, expedited the delivery of the medical device, and as a result, the hospital resumed performing life-saving surgeries, reducing patient waiting times, and ensuring positive outcomes.

This example demonstrates the importance of problem solving and cross-functional communication between medical affairs and supply chain management.

The collaborative efforts of the Medical Affairs Manager and the Supply Chain Manager significantly impacted patients' lives, emphasising the crucial role both managers play in maintaining a healthcare organisation's reputation for delivering exceptional care.

One question that we are often asked by our candidates is:

“How can I develop cross-functional collaborative skills?”

Here are some tips to help you:
  • Build relationships: Establish connections with individuals from different departments or backgrounds. Foster a positive work environment by showing respect, being approachable, and actively engaging with others.

  • Develop effective communication skills: Learn to communicate clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing. Listen actively to others, ask questions for clarification, and adapt your communication style to suit different audiences.

  • Embrace diversity: Understand and appreciate the value of diverse perspectives and experiences. Be open to learning from others and recognize that different viewpoints can lead to innovative solutions and better decision-making.

  • Cultivate empathy: Put yourself in others' shoes to better understand their needs, motivations, and perspectives. This will help you establish rapport and trust, making it easier to collaborate effectively.

  • Share knowledge and resources: Encourage a culture of openness by sharing your expertise, insights, and resources with others. Offer help when needed and be willing to ask for assistance when you require it.

  • Be adaptable and flexible: Be open to change and willing to adjust your approach or expectations as needed. Embrace new ideas, even if they challenge your initial assumptions or plans.

  • Develop problem-solving skills: Work together to identify challenges and develop creative solutions. Encourage collaborative brainstorming and use constructive feedback to refine ideas.

  • Set clear goals and expectations: Establish shared objectives and priorities, ensure that all team members understand their roles and responsibilities.

  • Foster accountability: Encourage team members to take ownership of their tasks and hold each other accountable for results. Celebrate successes and learn from failures, using them as opportunities for growth and improvement.

  • Continuously learn and improve: Seek feedback from your colleagues and be open to constructive criticism. Reflect on your experiences, identify areas for growth, and actively work to develop your cross-functional collaborative skills.

For healthcare professionals working as or aspiring to become a Medical Affairs Manager or a Supply Chain Manager, this example highlights the value of teamwork, problem-solving skills, and cross-functional collaboration. By working together, these two roles can overcome various challenges in the healthcare industry, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes and enhanced organisational performance.

Craving a career boost?
Connect with our expert consultants to find the ultimate upgrade in your career!

Jo Turner – jturner@hpgconnect.com / 0414 948 575

Mattias Fitzgerald– mfitzgerald@hpgconnect.com / 0401 414 395

Gemma Staddon – gstaddon@hpgconnect.com / 0415 344 720