Article | December 15, 2020
The use of technology in hospitals has been increasing for the last decade and at present, it has reached an all-time high. However, it may be surprising to realize that the healthcare supply chain management (SCM) area of hospitals has not fully embraced technology. According to a survey conducted among 100 hospitals recently, nearly half of these hospitals use less sophisticated/outdated tools or manual processes, such as Excel spreadsheets, to manage supply expenses, inventory, and other supply chain activities.
According to the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM), healthcare supply chain management costs will surpass labor costs shortly for the number one position. But there is good news; similar surveys show potential for significant healthcare supply chain management cost savings. For example, an analysis by Navigant consulting estimates that, by standardizing and streamlining the healthcare supply chain management processes, hospitals can save an average of US$11 million per hospital or 17.7% annually.
What is Healthcare Supply Chain Management
Procurement, distribution, and movement of products and services from the receiving deck to the patient encompass the process of healthcare supply chain management.
There are a lot of challenges in healthcare supply chain management processes. The major issues include demand for specific types of product in inventory, hoarding of supplies, out-of-stock issues that may lead to expensive delivery charges, product expirations, unwarranted increase in inventory dollars based on demand, and pilferage, among others. These issues may contribute to out-of-budget supply costs.
Healthcare supply chain management is an extremely complex process. Poor product standardization, inadequate data reporting, a lack of automation throughout the process, and increasing regulatory requirements only add to the difficulties. Thus, an easy way to get rid of all these complexities is to incorporate advanced technologies in the healthcare supply chain management process.
Healthcare Supply Chain Management Technology
Advanced healthcare supply chain management technologies are developed to transform the supply chain process to a more efficient one by automating repetitive manual tasks in hospitals and other healthcare organizations. Minimizing waste, enabling timely data-based decision-making, streamlining inventory, and reducing labour, supply, and operational costs are the major benefits of healthcare supply chain management software.
There are mainly two types of healthcare supply chain management technology solutions, enterprise resource planning systems and niche healthcare inventory and healthcare supply chain management solutions.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems
ERP systems are not the best for healthcare supply chain management specifically because these systems are used in many industries. Also, the concerned vendors often do not have the required healthcare expertise. As this is mainly implemented by larger and non-healthcare related businesses, it may take a longer time to implement. Also, it requires dedicated customization resources. This makes it inflexible for the healthcare industry supply chain management.
Niche Healthcare Inventory and Supply Chain Solutions
This type is known as the best-of-breed healthcare supply chain management solutions. They provide healthcare-directed and flexible solutions as they are affordable and incorporate deeper industry knowledge. These systems can also focus on specific areas such as interventional medicine, surgery, and other healthcare departments.
Why Should Hospitals Invest in Healthcare SCM Technology
Although hospitals and other healthcare organizations have demonstrated excellent performance in fighting COVID-19, the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in the present healthcare supply chain management process. Supply shortages, especially lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), highlighted how poor healthcare supply chain management affected healthcare providers. The underlying concern behind the supply shortage is that hospitals’ supply chains are not well prepared for the future of healthcare. Organizations are depending upon old models, which are not innovative, agile, or advanced enough to cater to the requirements of the modern data and technology-driven world.
Automating Healthcare supply chain management will be a major differentiator for hospitals at present and in future, impacting all aspects, including brand reputation, consumer trust, and quality of care. Healthcare leaders, such as organization heads and hospital administrators, require a new healthcare supply chain management system to deliver care at a lower cost. To realize this requirement, they have to make bold decisions and speed up the transformation of their healthcare supply chain.
Acceleration of healthcare supply chain management transformation will be grounded in many imperatives, which are related to process, people, and technology. The digital transformation focusing on these areas will fasten the long-term growth and sustainability of healthcare supply chain management.
Digital Transformation to Raise Healthcare Supply Chain to New Levels
The Healthcare industry has given importance, other than information systems and key enterprise technologies, to electronic health record platforms in the last decade. Currently, the healthcare industry is on the brink of a digital revolution. Several technologies, such as robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), are opening new doors for healthcare organizations to evolve to a level beyond anything previously imagined. It will surely affect healthcare supply chain management.
However, the healthcare supply chain has not yet kept pace with changing technologies. To create a fully developed supply chain, hospitals should find innovative ways to integrate their physical process with digital data. Hospitals should start using tools such as predictive analytics along with digital statistics and information to drive decisions.
Investing in this technology integrated healthcare supply chain management, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations will help achieve optimal benefits. However, it needs an efficient deployment of new technologies, such as the integration of ML and AI, and maintain a functioning healthcare system.
Collaboration Between People and Technology for Better Results
Years of operating in traditional systems has delayed the progress of healthcare supply chain management. As the consequences of running out of stock can be devastating in the healthcare system, leaders and clinical professionals have to look at supply chain differently. The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated and strengthened the necessity of better collaboration. Now leaders need to act timely to solidify these changes, brought out by the pandemic, to stop people reverting to behaviours that were problematic in the past.
Automation will make the future of the workforce and supply chain workflows more efficient. The greatness of the impact on future healthcare supply chain management performance depends upon the greatness of the automation of work. Hospitals should highly focus on technology to perform various repetitive tasks, including delivering patient food trays, gathering supplies and bringing them to caregivers, picking case carts, and transporting supply carts to storage rooms. Staff efficiency is increased, when repetitive tasks and predictable work are automated and performed by robots. This helps staff focus on more complex tasks that drive innovation and value.
Digital transformation occurs only when there is strong leadership and a conducive culture. Hospitals should realize the value of data in decision making and change their view about the supply chain leader. Modern healthcare supply chain management leaders are those who excel in education, governance, collaboration and communication, and change management. In hospitals, the supply chain management leader position should be elevated to executive level and they should be capable of using modern technologies for effectively handling the healthcare supply chain management process.
The Future of Supply Chain Operations
The sole aim of effective healthcare supply chain management has been finding the lowest cost products for the end-user without considering much about the profit of the manufacturer. The alarming product shortages and supply chain disruptions during the pandemic have changed that. Now, leaders are much more focused on how to diversify manufacturer product origins.
Technological advancements and digital transformation will encourage the efforts to evolve vendor and inventory management, which is evident in procure-to-pay strategies. In case of procure-to-pay strategies, hospitals can reduce cost and increase efficiency by integrating technology assistance in areas such as accounts payable, including invoice discrepancies, match exceptions, and placing purchase orders electronically.
In hospitals, healthcare supply chain management should evolve quickly to forecast and adjust the changing flow of patient volumes and care sites. Increased acute care in the home, utilization of telehealth, and remote patient monitoring will surely change demand for care facilities and supply demands from consumers. Efficiently catering to these requirements with the assistance of the latest technologies will determine the future of hospitals and healthcare supply chain management. In the healthcare supply chain management, technologies will play a vibrant role in boosting competence and reducing cost from now. Get yourself updated to avoid getting outdated!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the value of supply chain management in healthcare?
The healthcare supply chain management process ensures the right time availability of medicines, maximizing patient care, minimizing inventory wastage, and minimizing human errors. Healthcare supply chain management ensures timely availability of medicines for all patients at right time at lower cost possible.
What are the 5 basic components of supply chain management?
The five basic components of supply chain management are plan, source, manufacture, deliver, and return. Through these five components of supply chain management hospitals ensure the availability of all the medicines in hospitals. Shortage of essential medicines and other articles brings total chaos to the system.
Why is Supply Chain Management important for a hospital?
Supply chain management is essential for hospitals and other healthcare organizations as it ensures the availability of medicines and medical equipment so that patients get access to all facilities in time. In order to keep a consistent patient experience, an efficient supply chain management is necessary for all hospitals.
Article | March 31, 2020
Almost all conversations about healthcare disruption focused on new entrants into the industry transforming parts of the traditional service model and taking market share. Politically, most of the conversation centered around whether we would dismantle the ACA, build it back up or move to Medicare for All. Despite all the noise about disruptors, politics and consumerism, I felt like incremental change was the most likely scenario. Although the industry had been changing – digital experiences and telehealth for instance – a revolutionary, wholesale change to our industry seemed far off to me. The odds of the system being truly disrupted – something like Medicare for All happening within the next decade – felt highly unlikely. And where are we know? It truly feels like there are forces brewing that could result in radical transformation and a complete, ground up rethinking of our entire system. As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, it has raised many serious questions that we’ll need to grapple with over the next 12 to 18 months. Where we land on these issues will have a profound effect on what healthcare in this country becomes for the rest of our lives.
Article | May 19, 2021
As the COVID-19 pandemic upended the healthcare system, hospitals and doctor’s offices doubled down on technology and implemented a host oftelemedicine services, from virtual visits to remote patient monitoring and customized treatment plans.
The results were unexpected. Not only did telemedicine help bridge the gap between physicians and patients during the health crisis, but arecent J.D. Power studyfound that telemedicine also delivered increased customer satisfaction, outpacing other healthcare services.
Patient-centered care played the largest role in this shift. Technologies that let staff reach patients anytime, anywhere enabled providers to shift their functional focus away from simply treating issues to building better relationships.
Article | March 12, 2021
Effective Healthcare branding changes how the public perceives a healthcare organization. Brands are all about perceptions. The way your customers perceive your organization determines your brand. That encompasses your doctors, your board members, your nurses, and your patients. The process of healthcare branding helps organizations ensure they are perceived the way they want to be; as trusted, knowledgeable, caring, and experienced.
More than a tagline, name, messaging, or logo, the recognizable feeling that these elements induce is your healthcare company's brand. Healthcare branding ensures that these elements meet in a cohesive system informed by positioning and personality and are constantly implemented across your brand's touchpoints.
Why is Healthcare Branding So Essential?
Healthcare branding was not always so important. Patients had the freedom to select any healthcare provider. Insurance was the principal determiner of their healthcare provider. It depended upon their workplace. Those without insurance got treatment at community clinics and emergency rooms.
As you know, times have changed a lot in a big way. Changing the entire healthcare landscape, the Affordable Care Act put patients in the driving seat. Most of the patients now have access to healthcare insurance and successfully manage their own health. Patients without insurance have the options of out-of-pocket online pharmacies and providers.
Healthcare providers have changed their performance metrics system to value-based assessments such as patient satisfaction. More than treatment, now the emphasis is on prevention. It has become a market that is direct-to-consumer healthcare.
As a result, the consumer has become the controller of the healthcare brand-consumer relationship. As patients have turned empowered consumers, the benefits of healthcare branding have grown to the point that healthcare companies cannot ignore them. If they do, it affects their business.
What are the Benefits of Healthcare Branding?
Effective healthcare branding, directed by research and a clear strategy, has many valuable benefits:
Identify Changing Patient Needs
The needs of patients today have changed from the start of COVID-19. Even when a global pandemic hasn’t fundamentally changed the healthcare landscape, patients’ needs are continually evolving. Healthcare branding gives you the tools to understand evolving patient needs better and rebrand your company to meet them.
Brand research includes qualitative research (including one-on-one patient interviews) and quantitative analysis. Insights gathered from brand research are critical in optimally positioning a healthcare brand. It is vital during dynamic and unpredictable markets, as in what happened during this COVID-19. Beyond brand research, effective healthcare branding ensures your healthcare brand is continually aligned with shifting market trends and their impact on patient needs.
It isn’t easy to think of a quality more essential to a healthcare organization's success than trust. A healthcare brand is broken or made by the degree to which it is trusted by those it serves.
When it comes to healthcare branding, trust is conveyed through everything from messaging to visual identity. Photography, colors, and typography all contribute profoundly to perceiving a brand as trustworthy. In healthcare branding, verbal identity is more important than visual brand identity in establishing it as an expert in the healthcare space.
Everything from a reassuring, confident voice in its website copy to guides designed to update patients on necessary healthcare topics and regular publication of articles are proven and well-known ways in healthcare branding to build up trust.
Set Your Brand Apart from the Competition
However, trust is not the only thing needed in the modern age for effective healthcare branding. The days, judging a healthcare organization based on its medical practice's reputation alone have gone. Patients have become empowered consumers as time passed. The competition to treat these empowered consumers too has become increasingly fierce. Here comes the importance of effective healthcare branding, tracking all your online and offline activities, and evaluating them every day.
Your healthcare brand is just one among the many other brands for internet-savvy consumers to choose from. First and foremost, all consumer decisions, including patients' decisions, are based on emotions. So, you have to think of ways to persuade your consumers' feelings to help your healthcare branding in the crowded marketplace.
Competitive differentiation is more vital than ever. Effective healthcare branding makes you find out opportunities and ways for differentiation in the challenging and competitive landscape. And, you can capitalize on these opportunities and ways with powerful storytelling and unique positioning.
Improve the Patient Journey
Patient experience, as mentioned earlier, is a game-changer in the healthcare industry today. Healthcare branding gives you various ways to shape and improve patient experience powerfully. After all, a good percentage of patient experience happens outside the healthcare facility these days. The beginning stages of the patient journey are the awareness and consideration stages. Healthcare branding tools, such as content marketing, are critical in influencing patients in these stages.
A website of your healthcare brand can make or break your patient’s pre-treatment experience. It is the selection phase of the patient journey. A premium and well-designed website optimized for conversion will enrich the patients' online experience, looking to book an appointment or answer a question.
Healthcare branding is helpful in defining the patient treatment experience. When correctly leveraged, healthcare branding allows your healthcare brand to enhance the patient journey from when the patient hears about the brand to the moment of finishing the treatment.
At every patient journey stage, healthcare branding fosters patient trust, builds patient loyalty, and reinforces patient-provider relationships.
Modern healthcare companies are operating in a competitive landscape where healthcare branding is more important than ever. Patients have become informed and empowered consumers. Digital healthcare brands have redefined the marketplace. Healthcare branding is vital if your healthcare company hopes to stand out from the rest and develop lasting and meaningful relationships with your patients.
Fortunately, there are many ways to differentiate your healthcare brand and make it sounds unique meaningfully. Positioning, identity, storytelling, and patient experience represent a powerful area where healthcare brands can better align themselves with their patients' needs and stand out from the competition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is healthcare branding important?
Healthcare branding helps you effectively project the personality of your healthcare organization and products. A good thought process to brand your healthcare product will make people remember you forever.
What is hospital branding?
Hospital branding is the process of making your healthcare organization be perceived better by potential clients. Effective branding makes your patients remember you through the best patient experience and the organization's external look.
What are the three branding strategies?
There are many effective branding strategies. Line extension, brand extension, and new brand strategy are essential types of branding strategies. You can have any strategy based on the nature of your product.