A combination of spending cuts and hospital bargaining pools is putting price pressure on medical equipment companies. As a result, the industry is taking a careful look at how to cut costs in its supply chain.

While the details are unique to medical equipment supply chains, the solutions are not. Accenture, a global management consultant and technology services company, says the industry should react to these cost pressures by improving end-to-end supply chain visibility.

“Superior supply chain visibility capabilities can drive high performance—a view grounded in Accenture’s medical supply chain visibility approach,” the firm notes in a recent Supply Chain Market article.

“As such, management and transparency of supply chain product-related information is fundamental to business success in all industry sectors. This is especially true for companies in the medical equipment industry, which is characterized by intensifying cost and price pressures and extensive regulation.”

The piece identifies five action items — well, one step and four processes — to achieve visibility in medical equipment supply chains. The details are about this niche group, but you’ll notice the processes can be used to increase visibility in any supply chain.

1. Create a “sharply-defined roadmap that assesses a company’s current supply chain,” and then pinpoint steps you can take to achieve visibility.

2. Establish a governance framework to define how you’ll manage and govern the data through every part of the supply chain.

3. Set up processes to support your governance framework. “To make it easier to identify and correct problems as they occur, these processes should cover the entire ecosystem of manufacturers, suppliers, regulators and customers,” the article notes. “Most processes should be built around product releases and regulatory compliance.”

4. Set up data structures and guidelines related to your product release information. Master Data Management (MDM) is essential here because it can accelerate data exchange, reduce duplication, reduce information delivery costs and even expedite product deliveries, according to Accenture.

5. Invest in the technology you need to manage all aspects of the supply chain processes.

CIOs will notice Accenture’s processes resemble the data governance and management processes needed for enterprise-wide information management. That’s because when you come down to it, visibility really means collecting, processing and making data more available — even when you’re dealing with process improvement.

That’s why integration is such a key component of any visibility project: It allows you to share data with B2B partners, whether that’s invoicing, payment, inventory or delivery data.

If you’d like to learn more about Accenture’s supply chain recommendations for the medical industry, the full report, “Supply Chain Visibility in the Medical Equipment Technology Industry,” is available as a free download.