The short end of the just-in-time stick
This morning's Boston Globe has an article on problems with the medical supply chain unmasked by the H1N1 outbreak. Some of the difficulties relate to a just-in-time supply strategy, which was developed by the automotive industry and philosophically views inventory as waste. So when an outbreak of disease emerges abruptly, hospitals find themselves quickly exhausting supplies of masks, testing swabs, and medications. This is another example of the problems that occur when healthcare is fundamentally viewed as a commodity rather than as a public good.