Case Detail

Case Summary

Optimizing Flu Vaccine Planning at NorthShore University HealthSystem

Case Number: 5-410-750, Year Published: 2012, Revision Date: April 16, 2012

HBS Number: KEL625

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Authors: Sarang Deo; Ilya Kolesov; Sachin Waikar

Key Concepts

Health Care, Operations Management, Supply Chain Management


Stan Kent, vice president of pharmacy at NorthShore University HealthSystem, is faced with the challenge of seasonal planning for the influenza vaccine. The supply received by the multilocation healthcare system is unreliable in terms of timing and quantity. As part of improved planning, Kent is contemplating a new contract with NorthShore’s major supplier of flu vaccines. The options under consideration include fixing either the date of delivery or the quantity delivered. The main decision involved in either option would be how much vaccine to order. The case also provides details about the seasonal influenza epidemic in the United States, illustrates operational complexities of the U.S. flu vaccine supply chain, and provides a brief description of the various channels used to distribute flu vaccine to end consumers.

Learning Objectives

The main objective of the case is to illustrate supply chain decision making when there is an unreliable supply (in contrast to the usual case of uncertain demand). A secondary objective is to make students think about appropriate internal (within sector) and external (other sectors) benchmarks to evaluate the performance of a health commodity supply chain.

Number of Pages: 15

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Operations

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Industry: Healthcare, Pharmaceutical

Organization Name: NorthShore University HealthSystem

Organization Size: Large

Decision Maker Position: Assistant Vice President of Pharmacy

Decision Maker Gender: Male

Year of Case: 2009