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 According to a survey conducted among 100 hospitals recently, nearly half of these hospitals use less sophisticated/outdated tools or manual processes, such as Excel spreadsheets, to manage supply expenses, inventory, and other supply chain activities.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
The healthcare industry is evolving rapidly and distances more and more from the concept of waiting rooms every year. In this article, we want to cover the topic of healthcare mobile application development and how it changes the industry and our way of living. The global demand for 24/7 healthcare support continues to grow, especially with the spread of such deceases as COVID-19. Thus, healthcare mobile app development becomes more relevant due to its ability to allow to leave the traditional approach of patient-doctor treatment. Today consumers expect to receive more than just regular coverage. People strive for innovations and modern solutions in terms of healthcare, especially when the wearable devices became available to masses. This demand stimulates the development of applications which will solve such problems as overcrowded places, waiting-lines, angry patients and inconveniences. Accordingly to MarketsAndMarkets report, the global Mobile Health solutions market is projected to reach USD 213.6 billion by 2025 from USD 50.8 billion in 2020, at a high CAGR of 33.3% during the forecast period of 2020 to 2025. This massive increase is mainly affected by the growing adoption of portable devices, increasing the popularity of AI and 5G technologies.
Article | December 15, 2020
This, unfortunately, is a very real cyber threat that healthcare organizations face every single day, and most of them are not prepared for it. According to a recent report by HIMSS, significant security incidents are a near-universal experience in US healthcare organizations. Most incidents are initiated by bad actors, leveraging e-mail as a means to compromise the integrity of their targets. Yes, they might be on a protected network, but the endpoint devices themselves aren’t protected as well as they could be. Combine an unprotected medical device with staff that hasn’t had any cyber training creates a huge insider threat, whether the staff does anything unwittingly or maliciously.
Article | December 15, 2020
The world is moving towards digitalization in every domain. And now COVID-19 has imposed a need for remote work and communication environments. In that case, healthcare organizations have started utilizing medical software with cutting-edge technologies that could offer mobile health solutions. And they could cater to such needs through a healthcare software development company.
Therefore, the medical institutions must opt for the right healthcare software vendor that is familiar with the new trends in the healthcare sector. Such companies can help optimize digital patient care through health care application development.
Importance of healthcare software development company Or why you need one?
Healthcare software development companies process applications to store, retrieve, and share user data. They are connected globally through cloud services. Partnering with a healthcare software company can avail you of many benefits like:
Better Patient Experience
A professional healthcare software developer can manage your medical software very smoothly and effectively. This could help in delivering better patient experiences. It also enables you to get access to the patient’s information before the appointment.
A dedicated healthcare development company will ensure to deliver faster patient checks with lesser paperwork. The information is filed electronically and considers order prescriptions smoothly.
Easy Scheduling and Maintenance
Healthcare software development services offer a strong scheduling system. It helps in finding out the convenient date and time for the patient’s appointment at their comfort. The medical software is flexible to perform such tasks smoothly. It also solves the issues of overbooking through proper scheduling.
Easy Billing and EHR
Billing is an intimidating task in the healthcare industry. A good healthcare software offers easy billing and EHR facilities. It also helps you automate the processes involved in the EHR model.
Healthcare software development services: Important factors to consider
Focus on usability and ease of use
Healthcare employees have a busy job. So, they prefer a user-friendly and easy-to-navigate interface. Only such an interface could ensure a high user adoption rate.
Additionally, healthcare institutions need to prepare their employees for any changes in their working process that the new software solutions might bring. For that, they need to provide adequate training and support, so that when the time comes, they can derive the maximum advantages out of the software solutions according to Vishal Shah from TatvaSoft.com
Integration with various applications
Various system integration requirements are used to make sure the new solutions work properly with other systems. You should also look further for whether current legacy systems need any upgrades to integrate them with the new solutions.
A professional administration
Access to the data by specialist doctors to update the data is necessary. However, access to the data should be strictly restricted with proper arrangements.
Medical care organizations need proper security measures with laws on data, protection, and other security principles. A leak of patient information is a critical issue that may cause weighty business misfortune. Only the approved staff with rights to oversee the admittance to information and patient records can approach the necessary data.
Development costs depend on the size and complexity of the software or applications which is directly connected to the specific business needs of the healthcare organizations. First, an organization needs to identify key problems that require software solutions.
Also, consider the future IT needs of healthcare institutions such as potential business expansion and its scalability and integration requirements. A mobile workforce can help your organization attain more efficient workflow and enhanced productivity.
Healthcare IT infrastructure
IT infrastructure includes hardware, devices, internet connection speed, and/or mobile 4G connection, and many more. Healthcare agencies need to consider whether such infrastructure will be offered by the development company or if the organization has to use its resources.
While using employees’ resources may compromise security, it is suggested that employees must be given the devices and technologies by the companies. The devices and technology need to be updated on the regular basis.
Questions to Ask Healthcare Software Development Company
We have compiled a list of some questions that could help you get the best and most suitable medical IOS and Android app development partner.
Do you know/understand how HIPAA privacy protection rules might apply to healthcare software products?
HIPAA can be subtle and complicated. Federal and state laws have included HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules for the privacy and security protections for hospitals and medical institutions.
There will be many healthcare software developers who won’t be familiar with HIPAA and how it is applied to the products. You must check that out.
Can we sign an NDA?
If your business idea is precious from the IP (Intellectual Properties) perspective then you must ask the app development company to sign the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) before you discuss any details of the project. It is also signed to protect sensitive business details from any third party.
Can I have the contact information of your former clients?
It is vital to have a look at the mobile application development agency before you consider them to hire. However, you won’t get the entire picture and other details but to get that you can ask the company for the contact information of some of their former clients.
Get in touch with their former clients, ask them about their experience working with the agency. The goal is to not only have a great app at the end but also go through an app development process that is stress-free, easy, and enjoyable.
Checking for reviews and references is the key when it comes to hiring mobile application developers.
What is your Software development methodology?
Latest best practices like scrum and agile development are far more reliable compared to conventional methods. Software development companies nowadays practice them to be more efficient and productive. They understand that the market changes quickly and to cope up with it, they need to be capable of adapting to the changes quickly.
How experienced are your healthcare software developers?
Check for the experience of the developers employed by your medical software development partner. They need to be qualified to build medical solutions and deliver them within a predetermined budget and timeline.
How to choose?
Even if you have decided to work with a healthcare software development company, there are hundreds of companies out there, and all claim to be the best in the field. How would you choose the one that can help you achieve your goals?
Analyze their Area of Expertise and their Experience as a Healthcare Software Developer
Quality is the one thing that should be never compromised no matter how complex your demands are. In the software development healthcare industry there are many standards and compliance requirements like HIS and HIPAA that need to be catered to.
Therefore, you need to analyze their area of expertise and their experiences. Only experienced healthcare software vendors can understand and fulfill the critical needs of customers.
However, expertise isn't enough. You also need to look at the certifications to gain deeper knowledge about the healthcare solution developers’ level of professionalism.
Go Through Their Healthcare Software Development Portfolio to Get a Better Idea of Projects and Quality
Go through the portfolio of the potential healthcare software development partner. Look at their past projects in the healthcare domain and check if it matches your requirements. Research about their market reputation and reach as well as find out whether they serve the organizations in your niche.
The key factors to look for in the portfolio:
Types of healthcare software they have delivered in the past
Clients they have served- names, strength, and value
The complexity of projects they’ve handled
The kind of experience they provide to the users
Technologies they excel in
Reviews and Ratings Could Be Helpful
Find out what the customers are talking about this company. Analyze their reviews and ratings. Understand how a particular healthcare software development company deals with their clients and cater to their services.
Carefully Understand their Process
Almost every company has a unique process to provide their healthcare software development services. But all processes generally consists of the following:
1. Requirement analysis
2. Scope freezing
3. Product prototyping
4. Product development
5. QA and testing
7. Post-launch support
These software development processes could follow any approach from waterfall to agile methodology. Know the details of the process from your healthcare software development partner and understand how it aligns with your goals. And never hesitate to clear your doubts.
Know the Cost to Develop a Healthcare Software
Everyone has a budget and make sure you have communicated well about your software development budget with your potential healthcare technology partner. Ask them about the cost to build the software and look for the cost to quality ratio. After gathering all the necessary details, make an informed decision.
Understand the Engagement Models to Choose the Best
Engagement models are the ways of collaboration for the business relationship. You can choose from the following:
A. Turnkey Engagement Model
It is also known as the fixed price model. When you share your demands, you get a fixed quote for the work. This is an ideal model for:
Projects with a well-defined scope
For assigning test tasks to the developers
B. Time and Material Basis Model
In this model, hiring is done based on time and material. A client agrees to pay a hired software development company based on the time the developers spend after developing their products and other relevant tasks. The payments are done according to the mutually agreed hourly rate. The model is suitable when:
Unclear requirements or specifications,
A long-term project with dynamic pricing
The client needs more flexibility
C. Dedicated Hiring Model
As the name suggests, it enables you to hire dedicated resources from the web development company. One can hire a web development company for your project, depending on the number of hours spent by the developers on your project. This model is best suited for:
Clients who are looking for an extension to their in-house team
Those who have unclear project requirements
The hirer is looking for more flexibility
Find out What Does the Healthcare Software Development Company has to Offer Post-launch
You are mistaken if you believe that the healthcare software development cycle ends with the launch of the product. There are chances of hitting obstacles any time and do not forget that the market keeps changing in terms of technology and user demands. This means you might need to upgrade your software or need to add some features to it.
For all such requirements, the healthcare software development agency offers support and maintenance services for a limited time post-launch. There could be specific terms and conditions for it too.
So, before you hire any agency, do not forget to inquire about the support and maintenance services offered by them and its price.
What is the Team Structure that They Would Provide You?
Ask about the team structure offered by the company for your software development project. You can interview a potential team of software developers if you want to. You should do it to assess the capacity of the team. In general, a software development team consists of:
1. Requirement analyst
2. Project manager
3. UI/UX designer
4. Software developer
5. QA tester and engineer
Also, you need to convey your requirements clearly to the software development agency so that they can do justice to your project.
Ability of a Healthcare Software Development Company to Assist You For Expanding Your Software’s Features
The main goal of developing medical software is to increase the efficiency of your operations, automate them, enhance them, and last but not least: offer a better patient experience. Therefore, above all other things, you must check out the ability of the custom healthcare software development company to expand or scale-up the product as per your needs.
Areas of Use
Custom healthcare development is used in the following areas:
Telemedicine is a flourishing branch for custom software development companies in the healthcare business. App development is crucial for telemedicine and healthcare providers because it facilitates teleconsultation and healthcare information. Mobile applications play a key role in sharing medical services and information among patients.
Healthcare portals and patient databases
There is a wide scope for a healthcare app or a patient portal that could compile and store the data categorically over long periods.
This type of storage of health data can be accessible by the doctors in the form of medical records when they are seeing the patient, even if it is the first time. One can pull the data off the EMR and EHR which maintains such a set of data records. To ensure the protection of the data, personal information is kept confidential and only between the patient and doctor, on the portals.
E-consultations and e-prescription
E-consultation is one of the latest practices in digital healthcare services. Mobile apps are developed that are compatible with both iOS as well as Android and are user-friendly.
Such applications enable patients to consult with the doctors remotely based on their healthcare needs and get e-prescriptions as well. They can also get online treatment plans for certain diagnoses through this. The healthcare software developers have similar solutions for virtual billing software and e-pharmacy management.
VR and AR healthcare software development
Since their initial release, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have been very helpful in medical care especially in the COVID-19 remote healthcare scene. Ran through a powerful technology stack, AR-VR enables the patient to feel and see how a treatment or a medical device works.
Big Data and AI solutions for healthcare
Healthcare is one of the Big Data industries. It manages the flow of large volumes of medical data daily. To ensure that the collected data is used well, healthcare services are now powered by AI.
Health tracking and fitness apps
Wearable technology is gaining immense popularity these days. The products include smartwatches and bands that could track heart rate, sleep cycles, number of steps walked, and many more. These kinds of applications built by expert healthcare developers are among the most downloaded on the internet.
Custom healthcare software is important for healthcare organizations to make their process easier as possible. The COVID-19 pandemic is further popularizing telemedicine, e-consultation, AI solutions, fitness, and other health applications.
I know choosing a suitable healthcare software development company is not easy, but if you follow the process mentioned in this article, you can get the best and top-rated software developers who create apps for the medical and health care industries.
I hope this article has guided you well to understand better about healthcare software development companies. However, if you have any queries or suggestions, please connect with us in the comments section below.