With the ever-evolving and changing nature of the healthcare industry, organizations are discovering new methods to eliminate waste, reduce costs, and prioritize patient concerns.
Despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the vulnerabilities of healthcare supply chains and caused shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential medical supplies, it has served as a catalyst for innovation and digital transformation in healthcare supply chain management solutions.
Healthcare and medical organizations have learned the hard way to let go of the traditional ways of thinking, such as a mindset that prioritizes just-in-time supply chains and logistics optimization over everything else.
Tight, fragile supply networks and lousy inventory management have caused severe shortages of pharmaceutical and medical supplies in the past. However, with the emergence of innovative technologies and trends, now is the time to adopt a new mindset that emphasizes supply chain resilience, flexibility, and agility, making supply chains stronger and adaptable. This will enable healthcare spaces to handle unexpected spikes in demand and survive unpredictable disruptions brought on by pandemics, natural disasters, or cyberattacks in the future.
Top Upcoming Healthcare Supply Chain Trends to Know About in 2022
In recent years, healthcare providers have been concentrating on supply chain management solutions not only to increase the effectiveness of supply chain networks but also to gain more visibility into the entire supply chain.
With the goal of streamlining the ordering process, enhancing demand planning & inventory management, and informing purchasing contract decisions, healthcare providers have started to understand the potential of advanced healthcare supply chain solutions. Since then, these organizations have recognized the value of an efficient and dependable supply chain as a critical competitive differentiator.
A substantial rise in medical and healthcare spending is being witnessed across the globe due to the rapidly increasing number of various diseases and conditions, such as chronic ailments, infectious diseases, and genetic disorders. According to a study, the national health expenditure in the U.S. reached US$ 4.1 trillion in 2020, including the spending of US$ 829 billion on Medicare and US$ 671 billion on medical aid.
Hence, healthcare organizations, manufacturers of medical devices, and other entities participating in the medical supply chain are investing in innovative supply chain and logistic solutions to provide optimal and timely treatments to patients.
Innovation is not only crucial for lowering operating expenses and simplifying business processes, but it is also necessary for providing superior care to patients and enhancing clinical outcomes. Let's see some of the top healthcare supply chain trends that are revolutionizing the healthcare sector.
Immediate Access to Medical Supplies
Medical equipment and component shortages are not new challenges for the healthcare industry. Hospitals and other medical establishments have faced continual disruptions in the supply chain over the last decade, starting from personal protective equipment and medical device shortages to improper management of medical inventory. This was especially witnessed in the past two years, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Healthcare producers previously adopted a strategy to either pay higher premiums for medical equipment or stockpile them on their balance sheets. However, the issue with this strategy was that during the acute and unprecedented shortage, fewer devices and parts were left to acquire and keep in inventory, which has compelled hospitals to adopt a more cautious supply chain strategy.
Medical establishments need a more diverse pool of suppliers and cannot only rely on just-in-time inventory ordering. Hence, a swift rise in inclination toward adopting sophisticated supply chain solutions is being witnessed across the industry to monitor certain suppliers' run rates. This enables modern healthcare organizations to create more resilient and robust hospital supply chains and provide immediate access to medical inventory.
Emphasis on Visibility and Tracking
One of the most prevalent healthcare supply chain trends witnessed across the industry is the growing focus on visibility and tracking. Obtaining medical supplies, equipment, drugs and others safely, timely, and accurately from the factory floor to patients is the responsibility of the healthcare supply chain. As the industry shifts to value-based care models, the healthcare supply chain is experiencing enormous pressure to increase visibility, decline costs, and improve outcomes.
With the advent of online shopping and the introduction of novel medical e-commerce platforms, manufacturers and suppliers of healthcare products are focusing on real-time tracking during transit and logistics operations. As a result, they are increasingly adopting advanced healthcare supply chain management software to enhance visibility, stream operations, and decrease delivery time.
Investment in Technologies
The efficient management of the healthcare supply chain is paramount for proper patient care and inventory control. The implementation of digital healthcare technology is an essential step toward the achievement of a higher level of efficiency in supply chain management.
Digital healthcare logistics and supply chain solutions have the potential to generate long-term value for healthcare providers, which is one of the main aspects driving the transformation away from the conventional healthcare supply chain. It is improving patients' access to care while making it more efficient, cost-effective, and secure. In addition to this, the integration of advanced technologies is assisting hospitals and healthcare providers in reducing operational costs and identifying appropriate growth opportunities. The following are the technologies healthcare organizations are investing in to strengthen their supply chain management
The healthcare supply chain trend that is paving the way in the industry is artificial intelligence (AI). It is the future of the healthcare supply chain. The integration of the technology assists in improving logistics efficiencies via quicker data processing, continuous process improvement, and accurate demand-supply forecasting.
By connecting historical data with external patterns that affect production, AI presents a chance to greatly increase the speed and precision of healthcare logistics and supply chain activities. In addition, it enables medical equipment manufacturers and suppliers to constantly record crucial operational data and preserve institutional expertise for future use.
Cloud computing technologies have played a significant role in transforming the healthcare supply chain management that is used today. It reduces expenses, shortens logistics operations, and increases data security by centralizing data and providing access to that data to numerous associated entities.
With technological advancements, cloud computing is anticipated to gain huge popularity in creating a resilient supply chain with a well-knitted network of healthcare providers, manufacturers, and suppliers. And also provides next-generation features, such as transport route optimization and automatic inventory management.
Data analytics provides a broader range of in-depth information that can be used to make operational processes more effective, inventory management more strategic, and decisions more accurate. It also assists in transforming the healthcare supply chain by providing access to cutting-edge methods like data mining, predictive forecasting, and predictive analytics to foresee future events with precision, assisting healthcare providers in forecasting further demand and supply interruptions.
In addition to the increasing need for declining costs and transit time, drug manufacturers and healthcare aid suppliers are investing in advanced data analytics to assist them in visualizing the whole supply chain, including its pain points, inefficiencies, and strengths.
Healthcare Supply Chain Management Solutions: Features & Significance
The healthcare industry as a whole is thriving, and this growth is reflected in the more sophisticated and digital nature of healthcare supply chain management software. The solution helps medical facilities see the big picture by coordinating and integrating procedures that manage and control the flow of money, data, and items as a product or service, all the way from the point of production to healthcare spaces, allowing for more efficient care.
The primary goals of these supply chain solutions, such as healthcare logistics software, are to improve visibility and efficiency throughout the distribution network. In recent years, these goals have expanded to include the strategic objective of improving supply chain agility and resilience— to cope with times of uncertainty, shortages, and volatility in demand and supply conditions.
Getting supply chain management right in healthcare means that participating players will be able to effectively identify and resolve bottlenecks, possible interruptions, and other issues that arise anywhere along the end-to-end supply chain. As one of the features, these supply chain solutions have the potential to improve patient care and safety while reducing waste and wasteful expenses. Let's see a few more features of healthcare supply chain management software
- Procurement Management
- Logistics Management
- Inventory Management
- Order Management
- Warehouse Management
- Supplier Relationship Management
Why Is Supply Chain Management Software Gaining Prominence in Healthcare?
Due to increasing instances of medication and healthcare aid shortages, a strong need for modernizing the healthcare supply chain is being experienced by numerous hospitals, drug manufacturers, and suppliers. In addition, the growing use of medical e-commerce is further increasing the complexities in the inventory and logistics operations, making it difficult for the players mentioned above to provide timely delivery, reduce wastage, and ultimately save patients.
To counter these challenges, medical establishments are emphasizing adopting more advanced and resilient supply chain management solutions, which assist them in streamlining and automating routine manual processes such as logistics operations, planning, forecasting, and others. The following are more reasons to encourage healthcare establishments to adopt resilient supply chain management software
- Logistics and Shipping Optimization
- Reduce Cost Effects
- Enhance Quality Control
- Increase Flexibility
- Better Collaboration with Suppliers
- Reduce Inventory and Overhead Costs
- Increase Output
- Enhance Transparency
- Decrease Delivery Time
In today’s constantly evolving healthcare sector, medication manufacturers and hospitals are looking to adopt innovative solutions, such as healthcare logistics software, to eliminate waste, reduce costs, and improve patient care.
The growing integration of AI, predictive analysis, blockchain, and other technologies is playing a major role in modernizing the healthcare supply chain and streamlining operations by automating and improving decision-making abilities. As the healthcare supply chain trends discussed above keep on creating new roads in the industry, supply chain management solutions, such as healthcare logistics software, are anticipated to become a necessity in the future.
Thus, ahead-of-the-curve healthcare providers are seizing this instance as an opportunity to invest in cutting-edge technologies and shift towards using digital solutions to make their supply chains more robust and improve the flexibility of their logistics operations.
What is Healthcare Supply Chain Management Software?
Ans: A healthcare supply chain management software assists medication manufacturers and hospitals in sourcing, tracking, quality control, and logistics by automating operations, enabling them to manage costs, time, and inventory by planning and forecasting trends.
What Are the Types of Supply Chain Management Software Used in Healthcare?
Ans: The most common types of supply chain management software used across the healthcare sector are
- Sourcing and Procurement
- Inventory Management
- Order Processing
What Are the Key Performance Indicators of Supply Chain Management Software in the Healthcare Industry?
Ans: Key performance indicators of supply chain management software in healthcare are
- Reduction in Cost
- Enhancement in Customer Service
- Time to Customer
- Forecasting Accuracy
- Flow of Logistics Process