Article | September 28, 2022
Within the last two years, the healthcare industry saw an influx in patient care as COVID-19 swept through communities across the globe. The widespread shortage of patient care tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical technology amid the pandemic led to an exponential rise in health expenditures and demand for essential supplies.
In response to the medical demand-supply imbalance, the governments of numerous countries increased their medical care expenditures to counter the challenges of patient care equipment shortages. For instance, according to the National Healthcare Expenditure Data, federal government spending on healthcare and medical care grew by 36% in 2020 and is estimated to reach US$ 6.2 trillion by 2028 in the U.S.
Despite the rise in medical budget allocations, medical facilities are still facing difficulties obtaining enough supplies with the growing prevalence of numerous chronic, infectious, and hereditary diseases. As a result, organizations are focusing on deploying innovative solutions, such as healthcare supply chain management software, to keep track of inventory, procurement, logistics, and others and strengthen their supply chain.
Healthcare Supply Chain Management Solutions: Key Types
Healthcare systems, hospitals, and other patient care sites require a broad array of supplies to perform diagnosis and treatment, from masks and gloves to catheters and implants. Inadequate supplies coupled with inflation is making supply chain management a crucial but complex component in providing optimal patient care across the healthcare industry. This has shed more light on the role of supply chain management in saving lives.
Effective supply chains help various regulatory agencies, including medical goods manufacturers and insurance companies, deliver essential supplies, resources, technologies, and other patient care goods to healthcare establishments. Supply chain management solutions are thus garnering massive traction among healthcare organizations for simplifying and automating manual supply chain and logistics operations.
Let’s have a look at the types of supply chain management software that assist healthcare organizations to optimize their supply chain processes:
Inventory Management Software
Efficient medical inventory management is critical for the running of healthcare organizations. The software provides real-time inventory tracking, assisting organizations in closely monitoring inventory changes, avoiding shortages of both low-value and high-use patient care items, decreasing the wait time for access to medical supplies, and reducing the chances of late delivery.
Order Management Software
It is crucial for healthcare establishments to have an estimate of the demand and supply of goods to prevent shortages. Order management software enables these organizations to coordinate supply chain demand planning and forecasting. It also assists in streamlining warehouse operations, resulting in faster and more accurate order placement.
Sourcing and Procurement Software
By tapping into the power of sourcing and procurement solutions, healthcare organizations can develop robust sourcing processes and automate, streamline, and optimize their entire procurement processes. The software also assists establishments in improving their supply inventory levels, identifying the best supplier, and reducing their overall purchasing cost.
Shipping and Tracking Software
Shipping and tracking software assist in the planning and execution of the physical movement of goods. These solutions are primarily used by medical equipment manufacturers and suppliers during the delivery or relocation of patient care goods. The integration of these solutions enables organizations to track and manage numerous batches of goods in transit.
The Bottom Line
Growing competition, healthcare regulations, shipping costs, and increased logistics requirements from medical institutions have complicated the supply chain management processes. As a result, life-science companies are investing in cutting-edge supply chain management solutions to reduce numerous errors, improve logistics, and eliminate unnecessary costs spent to fix them.
Thus, several companies are now emphasizing the incorporation of cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence and data analytics, into healthcare supply chain management software to reap benefits such as process automation, streamlined inventory, reduced waste, improved decision-making, and lower labor, supply, and operational costs.
Article | July 6, 2022
Smoking has a lot of consequences to one’s health. It can lead to cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—all of which are chronic diseases. This is part of the reason why the Health and Human Services agency reports that 70% of adult smokers want to quit. As a medical provider, adults looking to stop smoking will come to you for advice and treatment. One alternative smoking product you might want to recommend is an e-cigarette, given their prevalence in recent years.
In this article, let’s take a deeper look at whether e-cigarettes’ should be recommended for smoking cessation and what other treatment options to endorse to patients.
Are e-cigarettes approved for smoking cessation?
Electronic cigarettes, more commonly known as e-cigarettes, are devices that vaporize nicotine-based liquid to be inhaled by its user. It almost replicates the experience of smoking a cigarette due to the device’s shape and the vapor it produces. However, the FDA has yet to approve e-cigarettes for smoking cessation because there is currently limited research on their effectiveness, benefits, and risks for the human body.
Additionally, scientists at the University of California found harmful metals in the vapor from tank-style e-cigarettes. These e-cigarettes are equipped with high-power batteries and atomizers to store more liquid. These result in high concentrations of metals like iron, lead, and nickel in the vapor. Exposure to and inhaling metallic particles may impair lung function and cause chronic respiratory diseases. As such, medical providers should not recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.
What can medical providers recommend for smoking cessation?
Smoking cessation medication
Presently, two FDA-approved prescription medicines for smoking cessation are Bupropion and Varenicline. Bupropion is an antidepressant that decreases tobacco cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It does this by increasing the brain chemicals dopamine and noradrenaline. This comes in a pill and can be used alongside other smoking cessation aids.
Varenicline also reduces cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It blocks nicotine receptors in the brain, decreasing the amount of enjoyment one gets from smoking. One thing to note about this is that it will take several days for Varenicline's effects to take place. Therefore, it's best to prescribe these pills 1-2 weeks before the patient quits smoking. Like Bupropion, Varenicline may be used simultaneously with other quit-smoking products.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a treatment involving nicotine consumption at gradually decreasing levels. This reduces the patient’s desire to smoke without them having to quit cold turkey. NRT involves using nicotine alternatives that don’t produce smoke, such as nicotine pouches and nicotine gum.
Nicotine pouches are oral products containing ingredients like nicotine, flavoring, and plant-based fibers. These are placed between the lip and gum, where nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream. Different variations have different strengths. On! pouches come in different strengths: 2mg, 4mg, and 8mg. Patients may start from 8mg variants and gradually decrease this dosage as their NRT progresses. Pouches also come in a wide range of flavors—including citrus, mint, and berry—to entice users.
Meanwhile, nicotine gum is chewing gum that contains nicotine. It is chewed a few times before being parked between the gums and cheek for nicotine absorption. The nicotine gums by Lucy are a significantly better alternative for tobacco users. Like pouches, this gum comes in several flavors, such as cinnamon, mango, and wintergreen, and different strengths ranging from 2mg to 6mg.
The recommendations mentioned above—medication and NRT—are more effective when coupled with counseling. A Primary Care Respiratory Medicine study revealed that successful smoking cessation is best attained through pharmacological treatment and counseling. Sessions typically involve a patient meeting with a counselor and they discuss their smoking habits, possible causes, and how to mitigate them. Medical providers should include counseling in addition to medication and NRT.
E-cigarettes have yet to be approved by the FDA as smoking cessation aids. For now, medical providers should provide medication, NRT, and counseling to patients who want to quit smoking.
Article | July 13, 2022
Healthcare supply chains are highly regulated, high-margin domains with stringent quality criteria, such as the demand for cold-chain storage and shipping. In addition, due to a lack of adequate understanding of the complicated rules governing healthcare products and services, medical aid providers are encountering inefficiencies while outsourcing capabilities to logistics service providers (LSPs).
In today's value-based care paradigm, healthcare leaders are tasked with improving patient outcomes while decreasing costs. With surging globalization, the growing cross-border nature of several medical products, and rising complexities in healthcare logistics, the need for building a robust supply chain is rapidly increasing across the healthcare industry.
Key Ways to Enhance Healthcare Supply Chain
A resilient supply chain plays a vital role in managing supplies, procuring resources, and shipping medical goods, among others, which assists in improving patient outcomes, enhancing service efficiency, and declining costs. Healthcare organizations are aiming to strengthen their supply chain to enjoy these benefits such as increased reimbursement, improved quality control, reduced inventory and overhead costs, and better collaboration with suppliers.
Here are some of the key ways to assist medical aid providers in building a strong healthcare supply chain
Develop effective inventory management
Manufacturers frequently encounter difficulties with timely inventory movement through their supply chains. Revenue is lost, and profit margins are harmed when products expire because they are not used adequately. This is why it is crucial to effectively manage the inventory process.
Hence, healthcare executives should deploy a high-quality equipment management system and increase collaboration between organizations, suppliers, and manufacturers to assist them in controlling inventory levels and effective inventory management.
Use technology and analytics to make operations run smoother
When it comes to supply chain management automation, the healthcare sector continues to lag behind other sectors. This is true for both the enterprise resource planning (ERP) functions and data analytics use for making decisions about forecasting and product choice.
Healthcare executives should make use of efficient technologies, such as solid analytics, in order to successfully improve a supply chain. Implementing data analytics and automation tools can assist in making healthcare supply chain management more efficient and effortless.
Widen and strengthen the supplier base
One of the most effective ways to build a robust healthcare supply chain is by increasing the number of suppliers and enhancing supplier base management.
Manufacturers and purchasers should abandon using single-or limited-source supply chains for raw materials and finished goods. This will assist healthcare companies in expanding their network of raw material suppliers and helps in careful consideration of which suppliers to use for procuring which resources.
Improve order accuracy and order cycle times to lower costs
Healthcare providers sometimes encounter a large number of errors during the ordering process. When incorrect products are ordered, the facilities face losses in revenue and are sometimes unable to deliver specific services due to the unavailability of products they need. Errors in placing orders can also result in medication errors. This can lead to a decrease in patient outcomes and negatively impact the company’s revenue growth.
To reduce the frequency of errors, these providers should deploy a computerized provider entry system. This will help improve order accuracy, increase supply chain efficiencies, and shorten turnaround times in healthcare ordering processes.
Consistently track and calibrate performance
Regardless of the size of the healthcare facility, it is of great importance for medical aid providers to carefully track and calibrate their performance frequently or on a specified timeline. This enables clinically integrated supply chains in healthcare to use key performance indicators (KPIs) to compare outcomes in terms of cost and quality and make decisions about products.
The rising integration of novel disruptive technologies such as data analytics, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and blockchain into healthcare supply chain management software is facilitating smooth operations, transparency, growth, and security across the life-science industry.
With a growing need for enhancing supply chains, healthcare providers are focusing on deploying advanced supply chain management solutions, such as healthcare logistics software, to strengthen their supply chains. As the trend continues to grow, the sales of healthcare supply chain management software and services are anticipated to rise from the US$2.2 billion registered in 2020 to US$3.3 billion by 2025.
Article | August 29, 2022
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
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
Better Collaboration with Suppliers
Reduce Inventory and Overhead Costs
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
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
Flow of Logistics Process