Article | December 8, 2020
A cruelly ironic truth is that nurses and other caregivers assisting injured and ill patients often wind up injured themselves. In fact, the caregiver profession has among the highest rates of injury, with back injuries being the most common and the most debilitating. Every year, more than 10% of caregivers leave the field because of back injuries. More than half of all caregivers will experience chronic back pain.
Most back injuries to caregivers happen when lifting patients from beds or wheelchairs. Injuries can occur instantly, but they can develop over time as well, often without the caregiver’s awareness. For example, the caregiver can sustain disc damage gradually and not feel any pain, and by the time he or she does experience pain, there can already be serious damage.
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 According to a survey conducted among 100 hospitals recently, nearly half of these hospitals use less sophisticated/outdated tools or manual processes, such as Excel spreadsheets, to manage supply expenses, inventory, and other supply chain activities.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 | December 15, 2020
As medical science has improved rapidly, life expectancy around the world also has risen. Still, as longevity increases, healthcare systems are facing a growing demand for advanced services, increased costs, and a struggling workforce to meet various requirements of patients. Demand is driven by many unstoppable forces: a shift in lifestyle choices, shifting patient expectations, population aging, and the never-ending cycle of innovation are a few among others.
Challenges Faced by the Healthcare Industry
According to Mckinsey, one in four people in North America and Europe will be over the age of 65 by 2050. This shows that, soon, the healthcare industry will have to deal with a larger number of patients with more complex requirements. Catering to these patients is expensive and requires health systems for providing long-term focused and proactive care. To remain sustainable, healthcare systems need major transformational and structural changes.
The industry also needs a larger workforce because according to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally there is a shortfall of approximately 9.9 million nurses, physicians, and midwives. Apart from attracting, training, and retaining these healthcare professionals, you also have to ensure that their time and effort add value to patient care. Utilizing the solutions powered by modern technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the healthcare industry, will add perfection and more value to human efforts.
AI in the healthcare industry has the potential required to transform and revolutionize healthcare by addressing the challenges in the industry mentioned earlier. AI can better the outcomes, improve efficiency, and augment productivity in healthcare delivery. This article takes an in-depth look at the impact of AI in healthcare.
Impact of AI in the Healthcare Industry
In the coming years, AI in the healthcare industry will improve the day-to-day life of healthcare practitioners, augment the patient experience, improve care delivery, and can even facilitate life-saving treatments and revolutionize the industry. Additionally, AI will improve population-health management, operations, and strengthen innovations.
According to Statista, the global AI healthcare market will increase to more than US$28 billion by 2025. Here is a detailed look into the areas where and how AI in the healthcare industry will be impactful.
Chronic Care Management
Chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, kidney diseases, are the leading cause of disability and death in the US and the main drivers of the country’s annual health cost. Effectively managing various chronic diseases is an overarching and long-term process. But with the help of the right tool, healthcare providers can meet the needs of these patients without delay.
Artificial intelligence tools in the healthcare industry can help healthcare providers overcome the complexities of chronic disease management and make it more effective and provide quality treatment. AI in the healthcare industry is increasingly being leveraged by organizations to improve chronic disease management, enhance patient health, and drive down costs, which will also eventually result in data-driven and personalized care. AI in the healthcare industry is expected to move the industry toward proactive care delivery from a reactive one and lead the industry to provide more individualized treatments. This is just one of the ways AI in the medical industry is going to revolutionize chronic care management in hospitals.
Artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry is changing the way care is delivered; it is expected to make healthcare more efficient, accurate, and accessible. Reducing costs and improving health outcomes are the values health systems and hospitals are trying to deliver to patients every day. Hospitals are increasingly incorporating technologies, which are powered by the use of AI in healthcare to meet the challenge.
According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), AI in the healthcare industry has unlimited potential to solve most of the vexing challenges in the industry. They identify AI use cases in the healthcare industry in four broad areas, which are administrative, operational, financial, and clinical areas.
Administrative Use Cases for AI in the Healthcare Industry
• Admission procedures
• Appointment scheduling
• Customer service responses
• Discharge instructions
• Hiring and orientation protocols
• Licensure verification
• Patient check-in procedure
• Prior authorizations
• Quality measure reporting
Operational Use Cases of AI in the Healthcare Industry
• Inventory management
• Materials management
• Supply chain management
• Facilities management
Financial Use Cases for AI in the Healthcare Industry
• Billing and collections
• Claims management
• Insurance eligibility verification
• Revenue cycle management
Clinical Use Cases of AI in the Healthcare Industry
• Predictive technologies
• Interventional technologies
By incorporating and utilizing these scopes with AI in the healthcare industry, the industry can be transformed into a next-gen level in no time. It also allows healthcare practitioners to focus more on patients, which would eventually help in raising staff morale and improving retention.
Clinical Decision Support
Recent advancements in AI in the health industry are capable of enhancing the currently used clinical decision support (CDS) tools to have value-based imaging and to improve patient safety. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the synergy between CDS systems and AI in the healthcare industry will be able to:
• Reduce friction in radiology workflows
• Identify relevant imaging features easily
• Generate structured data to develop machine learning algorithms
• Enable an evolution toward decision support for a holistic patient perspective
• Suggest imaging examinations in complex clinical scenarios
• Assist in identifying appropriate imaging opportunities
• Suggest appropriate individualized screening
• Aid health practitioners to ensure continuity of care
AI in the healthcare industry is competent in making CDS a next-gen one, enhancing the experiences of radiologists and providers, and improving patient care.
Slowly but surely, AI is improving almost every aspect of human life with innovations and advancements. The latest is that AI in the healthcare industry is impending a revolution in medical diagnostics by providing accurate risk assessments, accelerating disease detection, and boosting hospital productivity. By automatically prioritizing urgent cases and accelerating reading time, image recognition AI enhances the workflow of radiologists. It even helps in the prevention of diseases by the early detection of diseases.
In medical images such as x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, AI-driven software can efficiently be used to accurately spot signs of many diseases, especially in detecting many chronic diseases such as cancer. According to the NIH, AI will be widely applied in the healthcare industry especially for various tasks such as patient engagement and adherence, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations. So, there is no doubt that AI in healthcare will revolutionize the diagnostic process in the approaching years by detecting diseases, classifying diseases, and improving the decision-making process. The application of AI in the healthcare industry will make people live longer.
Triage and Diagnosis
AI can be effectively used to automatically triage cases. AI algorithms will analyze the cases and forward cases to pathologists after determining the priority based on the probability of cases according to the criteria set by labs. This makes the workflow of pathologists easier and efficient. Through the process the algorithm will be able to:
• Verify the digital images attached to the case belong to that case
• Validate the tests ordered and match the specimen type
• Identify cases marked as stat
• Determine the cases, which can be positive or are most likely to be negative
Moreover, AI technologies in the healthcare industry also can be effectively used to provide more accurate and faster diagnoses. This speeds up the entire process of triage and diagnosis and is expected to revolutionize the healthcare industry soon.
The Future Outlook for AI in the Healthcare Industry
Over the next few years, AI in the healthcare industry has the best opportunities in hybrid models to support clinicians in diagnosis, identifying risk factors, and in treatment planning. This scope will result in faster adoption of AI technology in healthcare, which will show measurable improvements in operational efficiency and patient outcomes.
With a plethora of issues to overcome, which are driven by documented factors such as growing rates of chronic diseases and the aging population, it is obvious that the healthcare industry needs new innovative solutions. AI-powered solutions in the healthcare industry will achieve a clear impact on the global healthcare industry in a short time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the best application of AI in the healthcare sector?
Cognitive surgical robotics is the best application of AI in the healthcare sector as it helps practitioners collect data from real surgical processes, which would help in improving existing surgical approaches.
Why is artificial intelligence important in healthcare?
Artificial intelligence in healthcare is vital as it can help make decisions, analyze and manage data, and have conversations. So, AI will drastically change the everyday practices and roles of clinicians.
When was AI-first used in healthcare?
The term, Artificial intelligence (AI) was first described in 1950, but the limitations of the term prevented its acceptance. In the 2000s, these limitations were overcome and people started to accept the term.
Article | February 19, 2020
The term, “The Cloud,” has become so commonplace that one might ask: “What does it mean and what value can it bring to a healthcare organization’s electronic health record (EHR)?” Without getting too technical, Cloud is a model for delivering IT resources. According to the National Institute of Standards, “Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources … that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” That is a straightforward definition. There are in fact three service layers, five essential characteristics and four deployment models inherent to the definition. Most healthcare organizations would use the “Private” deployment model. Cloud is a natural evolution in computing brought about by evolving improvement in connectivity and data storage capabilities as a result of improvement in technology. Cloud computing is not new and has existed in many forms over the past 40 years. Remote job entry was the definition in the 1970s and in the 1990s it became “outsourced infrastructure.”