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 According to a survey conducted among 100 hospitals recently, nearly half of these hospitals use less sophisticated/outdated tools or manual processes, such as Excel spreadsheets, to manage supply expenses, inventory, and other supply chain activities.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
During the past decade, the healthcare industry has undergone an unprecedented technological transformation. The industry, once defined by manual processes, has moved squarely into the digital age. As patients, we’ve all become accustomed to seeing physicians as well as clinical staff use laptops during office visits. And behind the scenes, hospitals and health networks have made substantial investments in financial and HR systems, among others. One of the more significant digital advancements has been the industry’s focus on applying greater levels of automation to supply chain processes. In doing so, provider and supplier organizations have improved the efficiency of their supply chains, driven out millions of dollars in cost and waste, all while keeping patient care front and center.
Article | December 15, 2020
One off implementation services often take additional time to build, are more brittle and susceptible to failure, are less performant, and can impede realizing full value from your ERP investment. Productized integration means that there is ongoing coordination of the ERP application, the interface design, and the EHR, and that the interfaces are optimized for performance and tested prior to release. Productized integration delivers value faster and more reliably than one off implementations. For example, Infor Clinical Bridge is a product and subject to the exacting product design and testing process required for product release.
Article | December 15, 2020
The recent COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has changed the way the healthcare industry has been processing. It has transformed the healthcare sector digitally. Healthcare providers have changed services with the latest healthcare technology trends in digital and virtual platforms. Every healthcare provider is updating services by adopting digital advancements in their practices to increase their capacity to engage the maximum number of patients. Still more advancements and updates are needed to address many challenges in the industry such as cybersecurity, effective payment model, telehealth, patient experience, invoicing and payment processing, and big data.
Last year, wearable devices in the healthcare industry were quite popular with the patients. These devices have helped patients be aware of various healthcare metrics. Due to the introduction of the 5G internet, the wearable devices market is expected to have huge scope in 2021. Healthcare technology trends, such as the use of a digital dashboard scheduler or chatbots as a digital assistant, help hospitals and other healthcare organizations to better track appointments, contacts, demography, and make changes more efficiently as these are practical measures for modifying and monitoring patient activities.
Telemedicine, using video conferencing, digital monitoring, etc. have also been very helpful in containing the spread of the pandemic. It has made healthcare accessible for everyone, especially in rural areas. For remote patient care systems, telehealth and teleradiology reporting are very important technological upgrades. Healthcare technology trends of 2020, including patient portals, mobile health applications, remote care via telehealth, and wearable devices, played a major role in tackling the global pandemic situation. Artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) also played a vital part in handling the situation. All the above-mentioned are COVID-19 fueled healthcare technology trends in 2020, which are expected to continue in coming years too.
Here is a detailed look into the healthcare technology trends, which are expected to address the new challenges and revolutionize the healthcare industry in 2021.
Technology Trends that will Revolutionize the Medical Industry in 2021
The digital transformation of the healthcare industry has been fast-forwarded by COVID-19 in 2020. Recognizing the healthcare technology trends, many healthcare providers have readily shifted their operations to the latest trending technologies. Others are also looking forward to setting their operations according to the upcoming trends.
It seems like almost all the healthcare providers genuinely wanted to transform their operating system to engage the maximum number of patients, due to the healthcare technology trends set after the hardest crisis in the healthcare industry virtual reality healthcare. So, before planning your healthcare strategy for 2021, don’t miss to include these healthcare technology trends of 2021 to achieve better healthcare outcomes and stand one step ahead of your competitors.
Patient Engagement Technology
One of the most competitive healthcare technology trends in 2021 will be patient engagement technology. There are countless technologies available in the market for patient engagement, evaluation, and campaigning. Due to high competition in the market, these tools are priced competitively.
Many healthcare organizations have started empowering themselves by achieving consistency in patient engagement with the help of available tools in the market. This also helps them achieve increased ROI. The healthcare technology trends, including remote care via telehealth, patient portals, wearable devices, mobile health applications, and many more, empower patients and increase patient engagement.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations need to improve patient experience along with engagement. The entire road to patient satisfaction and experience can be changed with these healthcare technology trends in 2021.
As telemedicine revolutionized the entire healthcare technology in 2020 by playing a vital role in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected to be one of the healthcare technology trends in 2021 too.
Using the advancement, it possible for healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat any number of patients remotely through phone calls, mobile apps, emails, and even through video calls. Telemedicine can provide patients with better access to all healthcare services, drive up efficiency and revenue, and lower healthcare costs.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
The arrival of both AR and VR solutions has made way to witness meaningful advancements in the healthcare industry and technology. Advancements that could only be dreamt of a decade back, have become realities and been implemented. These two healthcare technology trends offer some serious promise to the world of healthcare, including educating patients before a treatment procedure.
AR offers one of the latest and most spontaneous options in the healthcare industry. AR allows doctors and surgeons to experience 3D effects on real-world scenes. This healthcare technology trend permits the professionals to stay grounded on actual procedures with access to all the data through various other emerging technologies. This makes doctors compare data, in the virtual world, to understand what the patient is experiencing and make a flawless diagnosis and suggest healthcare procedures.
It is either impossible or expensive for patients to get answers from specialists for their routine queries. But, chatbots make it easier and comfortable for healthcare service providers to answer questions of patients cost-effectively. Though chatbots are currently in the experimental phase to be used in healthcare solutions, they are most likely to have the necessary access to clinical scenarios by the beginning of 2021. It is expected to be one of the progressive healthcare technology trends in 2021.
As a digital assistant, chatbots allow healthcare providers to keep a track of contacts and appointments and make changes, when necessary. Chatbots are going to revolutionize the clinical processes and business, providing practical as well as clear measures for modifying and monitoring patient activities.
Big Data and 5G
5G is about to sweep the world in the coming months. With the extraordinary intensification in transmission bandwidth of 5G, users will construct a huge amount of data. With 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be used largely to send and receive data. In the next three years, the global wearables market is expected to reach an annual turnover of US$52 billion. This can be attributed to the introduction of 5G wireless technology, one of the healthcare technology trends.
Healthcare providers will have the access to a huge amount of accurate data when data from wearable devices and other initiatives are added together. This is going to change the way providers collect data and the way doctors and patients communicate.
Thus, while you plan to upgrade your healthcare technology for 2021, don’t forget that you will be receiving a huge amount of data from patients, which can be attributed to one of the important healthcare technology trends of 2021, big data and 5G.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), one of the prominent healthcare technology trends of 2021, is developed to mimic human thought processes. GNS Healthcare AI system and IBM Watson are some of the most popular examples for the active use of AI in the healthcare process. This trend is going to rule healthcare processes and revolutionize medical care in 2021.
To improve healthcare professionals’ and hospitals’ care delivery to patients, Google’s DeepMind has built mobile apps and AI. The AI healthcare market is expected to reach US$7988.8 million in 2022 from US$667.1 million in 2016. This healthcare technology trend is expected to take the healthcare industry to a new realm by increasing patient engagement and experience in 2021.
Cloud computing is one of the major healthcare technology trends in 2021 that is going to change the industry. Attributed to the recent development of various healthcare technology trends, the cloud computing market is expected to reach US$35 billion in 2022 from US$20.2 billion in 2017.
This tremendous growth is attributed to the need of storing a high volume of data for healthcare organizations at a lower cost. In the healthcare domain, the main use of big data is in Electronic Health Record systems (EHR). It allows secure storage of various digital documentation such as demographics, medical history, diagnoses, and laboratory results. Cloud computing, an important healthcare technology trend, is expected to make the healthcare process smooth and flawless in 2021.
The biggest trend of 2021 in the healthcare industry is the holistic technological transformation of healthcare firms. Whether AI, ML, RPA, telemedicine, big data, chatbots, or cloud computing, almost everything related to data management and monitoring will peak in 2021. These healthcare technology trends will rule healthcare in 2021. Moreover, targeted and personalized care for critical diseases is expected to be another trend in the coming years.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the technology trends in healthcare?
Trending healthcare technologies are AI, ML, RPA, cloud computing, big data, chatbots, telemedicine, etc. AI, the life-changing technology is going to completely transform the healthcare industry in the coming years starting from 2021.
What are the most important trends in healthcare technology?
Augmented and virtual reality, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Medical Things, Machine Learning, chatbots, cloud computing, telemedicine, etc. are the most important technology trends in the healthcare industry.
What are the current technological trends in healthcare?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Electronic Health Records (EHR), Blockchain and data security, health-tracking apps, therapeutic apps, and telehealth are the major current technological trends in the healthcare industry.