Why Should Hospitals Invest in Healthcare Supply Chain Management Technology?

BINEESH MATHEW | December 15, 2020 | 551 views

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 According to a survey conducted among 100 hospitals recently, nearly half of these hospitals use less sophisticated/outdated tools or manual processes, such as Excel spreadsheets, to manage supply expenses, inventory, and other supply chain activities.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.

Spotlight

Boston Medical Center (BMC)

Boston Medical Center, located in Boston’s historic South End, is a private, not-for-profit, 496-bed, academic medical center and the primary teaching affiliate for Boston University School of Medicine. Recognized for its high-quality, nationally ranked and comprehensive medical care for the entire family, patients have access to the most current treatment and advancements at BMC. BMC physicians lead the way in pioneering new therapies that impact the care of patients locally and worldwide.

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Allina Health and Owens & Minor Expand Partnership and Announce New Strategic Collaboration

Owens & Minor, Inc. | August 10, 2022

Owens & Minor, Inc. a leading global healthcare solutions company, and Allina Health, a not-for-profit healthcare system dedicated to enhancing the health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin, today announced their renewed partnership and a new strategic collaboration to create a unique integrated service model for supply chain resiliency. The integrated service model is an evolution of the 20-year partnership between Allina Health and Owens & Minor. At the heart of the model is an integrated service center that will serve as the hub and central command for supply chain operations, combining communications, fulfillment, inventory management and distribution into an end-to-end solution built specifically for the needs of Allina Health’s hospital and clinical care network, including its 6,000 associated and employed physicians. “Allina Health believes that deepening our successful relationship with Owens & Minor will elevate our ability to ensure that our providers and clinical staff have the products they need, when they need them. Further combining our collective strengths is key to our vision for exploring creative, innovative ways to improve our supply chain operations. We are excited by what this new phase of our 20-year strategic partnership with Owens & Minor will bring.” Thomas M. Lubotsky, Vice President of Supply Chain, Allina Health Owens & Minor’s 140 years of supply chain expertise and innovative approach will serve as the backbone of Allina Heath’s supply chain operations, merging the company’s proprietary product portfolio, robust logistics capabilities, distribution, and technology services into a shared bespoke solution with improved data transparency, communication and inventory management capabilities that lower inventory costs. “We welcome the opportunity to work more closely with a partner as forward-thinking as Allina Health to not only drive greater efficiencies, but also to collaborate on new ways to support the continued health of their supply chain operations,” commented Jeff Jochims, EVP, Chief Operating Officer and President, Products and Healthcare Services, Owens & Minor. “We look forward to continuing and growing our long and successful partnership.” About Allina Health Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 10 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services. About Owens & Minor Owens & Minor, Inc. is a Fortune 500 global healthcare solutions company integrating product manufacturing and delivery, home health supply, and perioperative services to support care through the hospital and into the home. Owens & Minor drives visibility, control and efficiency for patients, providers and healthcare professionals across the supply chain with proprietary technology and solutions, an extensive product portfolio, an Americas-based manufacturing footprint for personal protective equipment (PPE) and surgical products, as well as a robust portfolio of products and services for patients managing chronic and acute conditions in the home setting. Operating continuously since 1882 from its headquarters in Richmond, Va., Owens & Minor is a 140-year-old company powered by more than 20,000 global teammates.

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HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

TELUS and LifeWorks receive court approval and key regulatory approvals for proposed acquisition

TELUS Corporation | August 12, 2022

TELUS Corporation and LifeWorks Inc. announced that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has granted its final order approving the plan of arrangement in respect of the acquisition by TELUS of LifeWorks previously announced on June 16, 2022. TELUS and LifeWorks also announced that the Competition Bureau of Canada has issued a no action letter in respect of the Arrangement. Accordingly, Competition Act Approval, as defined and as required by the Arrangement Agreement previously entered into between LifeWorks and TELUS, has been obtained. In addition, the applicable waiting period in relation to the Arrangement under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, has expired with the result that the acquisition is clear to proceed in the United States as well as Canada. The Court Approval, the Competition Act Approval and the HSR Approval are significant milestones toward closing TELUS’ acquisition of LifeWorks and follows LifeWorks’ shareholder approval, which was obtained at a special meeting of LifeWorks’ shareholders on August 4, 2022. Pending receipt of regulatory approvals in the United Kingdom and Australia, and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the Arrangement is expected to proceed to closing which is anticipated to be on or about the fourth quarter of 2022. “We are pleased to have reached this significant milestone, with clearance to proceed with the TELUS – LifeWorks transaction in Canada and the United States. Importantly, we have seen overwhelming support from LifeWorks’ team members, customers and shareholders, and I am confident that the potent combination of the respective skills and capabilities of LifeWorks and TELUS Health will create a world-leading, end-to-end, digital-first employee primary and preventative healthcare, mental health and wellness platform, covering more than 50 million lives, and growing, on a global basis. We look forward to welcoming LifeWorks employees into our TELUS family so that, together, we can help even more people around the world lead their healthiest and most productive professional and personal lives.” Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of TELUS “This is an exciting new chapter for LifeWorks and together with TELUS we will be able to accelerate our shared vision of empowering individuals to take a more proactive role in the management of their health by unifying the continuum of care through digital-first innovations, as well as our unmatched in-person care,” said Stephen Liptrap, President and CEO of LifeWorks. “Our two organizations are aligned as leading purpose-driven companies that are committed to improving the lives of people around the world.” About TELUS Corporation TELUS is a dynamic, world-leading communications technology company with $17 billion in annual revenue and 17 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security. Our social purpose is to leverage our global-leading technology and compassion to drive social change and enable remarkable human outcomes. Our longstanding commitment to putting our customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty. The numerous, sustained accolades TELUS has earned over the years from independent, industry-leading network insight firms showcase the strength and speed of TELUS’ global-leading networks, reinforcing our commitment to provide Canadians with access to superior technology that connects us to the people, resources and information that make our lives better. TELUS Health is Canada’s leader in digital health technology, improving access to health and wellness services and revolutionizing the flow of health information across the continuum of care. TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods is a global technology provider of innovative data insights and digital solutions, creating a unified, trusted and sustainable value chain. TELUS International is a leading digital customer experience innovator that designs, builds, and delivers next-generation solutions, including AI and content moderation, for global and disruptive brands across high-growth industry verticals, including tech and games, communications and media and ecommerce and FinTech. TELUS and TELUS International operate in 28 countries around the world. Driven by our determination and vision to connect all citizens for good, our deeply meaningful and enduring philosophy to give where we live has inspired TELUS, our team members and retirees to contribute more than $900 million, in cash, in-kind contributions, time and programs, and 1.8 million days of service since 2000. This unprecedented generosity and unparalleled volunteerism have made TELUS the most giving company in the world. Together, let’s make the future friendly. About LifeWorks LifeWorks is a world leader in providing digital and in-person solutions that support the total wellbeing of individuals – mental, physical, financial and social. As the trusted leader in mental health and wellbeing, LifeWorks delivers a personalized continuum of care that helps our clients improve the lives of their people and by doing so, improve their business. Guided by our purpose to improve lives and improve business, we help our clients improve the wellbeing of their people, we help them improve workforce engagement and productivity, thereby improving the performance of our clients’ organizations. LifeWorks is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: LWRK). LifeWorks has approximately 7,000 employees, 25,000 clients, and serves 36 million individuals and their families in more than 160 countries.

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HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Planet DDS Acquires QSIDental from NextGen Healthcare

Planet DDS | August 12, 2022

Planet DDS, the leading provider of cloud-based dental software, announced the acquisition of QSIDental from NextGen Healthcare, Inc. QSIDental offers cloud-based dental practice management software and has been a trusted clinical software partner to dental organizations for 40 years. This acquisition, including QSIDental Web®, reinforces the company’s commitment to cloud-based solutions as a way for dental practices to navigate and uncover new opportunities through unprecedented times in the industry. Planet DDS will actively support the needs of existing QSIDental customers, empowering their growth and success through industry-leading cloud solutions. “With rising costs and a difficult hiring environment, these are challenging times for dental practices. Planet DDS is committed to helping our customers to be more efficient and reduce costs while delivering better patient care. This acquisition enhances our ability to deliver top-rated cloud-based software to more dental practices across North America, and we are excited to welcome QSIDental team members and customers into the Planet DDS family.” Eric Giesecke, CEO of Planet DDS Planet DDS and QSIDental share similar philosophies on the use of technology to deliver more efficient workflows for dental practices, maximize quality of care, and enhance the patient experience. About Planet DDS Planet DDS is the leading provider of cloud-enabled dental software solutions serving over 10,000 practices in North America with over 60,000 users. The company delivers a complete platform of solutions for dental practices including Denticon Practice Management, Apteryx XVWeb Digital Imaging, and Legwork Patient Relationship Management. Planet DDS is committed to creating value for its dental practice clients by solving the most urgent challenges facing today’s dental practices in North America.

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

Allina Health and Owens & Minor Expand Partnership and Announce New Strategic Collaboration

Owens & Minor, Inc. | August 10, 2022

Owens & Minor, Inc. a leading global healthcare solutions company, and Allina Health, a not-for-profit healthcare system dedicated to enhancing the health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin, today announced their renewed partnership and a new strategic collaboration to create a unique integrated service model for supply chain resiliency. The integrated service model is an evolution of the 20-year partnership between Allina Health and Owens & Minor. At the heart of the model is an integrated service center that will serve as the hub and central command for supply chain operations, combining communications, fulfillment, inventory management and distribution into an end-to-end solution built specifically for the needs of Allina Health’s hospital and clinical care network, including its 6,000 associated and employed physicians. “Allina Health believes that deepening our successful relationship with Owens & Minor will elevate our ability to ensure that our providers and clinical staff have the products they need, when they need them. Further combining our collective strengths is key to our vision for exploring creative, innovative ways to improve our supply chain operations. We are excited by what this new phase of our 20-year strategic partnership with Owens & Minor will bring.” Thomas M. Lubotsky, Vice President of Supply Chain, Allina Health Owens & Minor’s 140 years of supply chain expertise and innovative approach will serve as the backbone of Allina Heath’s supply chain operations, merging the company’s proprietary product portfolio, robust logistics capabilities, distribution, and technology services into a shared bespoke solution with improved data transparency, communication and inventory management capabilities that lower inventory costs. “We welcome the opportunity to work more closely with a partner as forward-thinking as Allina Health to not only drive greater efficiencies, but also to collaborate on new ways to support the continued health of their supply chain operations,” commented Jeff Jochims, EVP, Chief Operating Officer and President, Products and Healthcare Services, Owens & Minor. “We look forward to continuing and growing our long and successful partnership.” About Allina Health Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 10 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services. About Owens & Minor Owens & Minor, Inc. is a Fortune 500 global healthcare solutions company integrating product manufacturing and delivery, home health supply, and perioperative services to support care through the hospital and into the home. Owens & Minor drives visibility, control and efficiency for patients, providers and healthcare professionals across the supply chain with proprietary technology and solutions, an extensive product portfolio, an Americas-based manufacturing footprint for personal protective equipment (PPE) and surgical products, as well as a robust portfolio of products and services for patients managing chronic and acute conditions in the home setting. Operating continuously since 1882 from its headquarters in Richmond, Va., Owens & Minor is a 140-year-old company powered by more than 20,000 global teammates.

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