Natural disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic have illustrated the shortcomings and the need to build resilience in the global healthcare supply chain. Healthcare supply chain management has always posed a challenge for health systems.
Supply chain vulnerabilities in other industries can greatly impact daily life and make things inconvenient. However, healthcare supply chain performance is vital to patient outcomes and ensuring healthcare providers get the medical supplies they need to provide patient care.
The healthcare industry can improve efficiency and build supply chain resiliency by embracing new technologies to optimize supply chains. Healthcare supply chain leaders must learn about the capabilities and benefits of supply chain digital technology.
This post will explain what technologies are available to optimize and simplify healthcare supply chain management, why supply chain management is critical, and the benefits of using supply chain technology in the healthcare industry.
Why Healthcare Supply Chain Management is Vital and Difficult
Even without the added difficulty of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare supply chain management gave health systems issues. In addition to drug shortages and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, healthcare organizations struggle with additional supply chain issues, including:
- Hidden costs
- Overnight shipping
- Lack of data
- Lack of integrations
- Unorganized supply chain operations
Healthcare supply chains can make the difference between life and death for patients. Technology and software tools can remedy many of the supply chain issues that healthcare organizations face.
Health systems are embracing technology solutions to improve supply chain efficiency and resiliency. As a result, healthcare organizations need to understand what tools are available to improve supply chain performance.
Supply chain excellence requires health systems to adopt leading practices and work collaboratively to optimize supply networks and promote greater agility.
Key Technologies Healthcare Supply Chain Leaders Should Know About
When it comes to healthcare supply chains, there are several technologies that can play a critical role in securing essential medical products and controlling costs. These are a few of the most well-known healthcare supply chain technologies that healthcare providers should know about:
- Internet of Things
- Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID)
- Digital twins
- Advanced data analytics
Internet of Things
IoT sensors and enabled devices have been vital to supply chains. IoT technologies enable connected devices to continuously share real-time information, which gives supply chain teams unbeatable insight into supply chain performance and the status of medical devices.
With a network of connected devices and IoT sensors, a health system can sync with supply partners and actively manage supplies and the resources needed to deliver care to their patients.
Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID)
RFID technology has the potential to revolutionize inventory management for supply chains. This is particularly important and valuable for a health system that needs to track medications and supplies.
Examples of RFID technology include tags and smart cabinets. These RFID technologies enable a health system to monitor the status of supplies in real time as they are taken off shelves and used.
As a result, healthcare providers can optimize their supply network and keep their supplies at optimal levels.
Digital twins are simulations of an existing healthcare supply chain. Healthcare organizations can benefit from digital twins by running different simulations to assess the resilience of their supply chains and identify inefficiencies.
Simulations also give organizations the ability to see how alternative supply sources would perform and if they can be used to offset potential disruptions to their healthcare supply chain. Building resilience in a healthcare supply chain requires planning for all possible scenarios.
Advanced Data Analytics
Data analytics allow healthcare organizations to monitor the status of their supply chain and gain insights into usage patterns. With the power of analytics, supply chain managers can forecast future demand with more accuracy, optimize inventory levels, and reduce costs.
Advanced data analytics powered by Artificial Intelligence have proven capable in several industries and settings.
The Benefits of Healthcare Supply Chain Technology
There are several benefits to using healthcare supply chain technology in your practice or healthcare system, including:
- End-to-end visibility
- Better demand forecasting
- More resilience
- Improved care for patients
Healthcare supply chain technology gives providers greater visibility over their supply chain. Visibility is vital to the success of any supply chain. Without visibility, your organization cannot highlight inefficiencies that require improvement or proactively prepare for future disruptions.
Before you can make improvements to your supply chain, you need to be able to view every component of it. Technology solutions give healthcare organizations greater visibility over their supply chains, and as a result, they have more control to make improvements.
Better Demand Forecasting
Forecasting demand is a critical part of supply chain management. Supply chain technology enables healthcare organizations to forecast demand with greater accuracy. Having the proper supplies is critical in the medical field. Failing to have the right medications or medical supplies could cost a patient their life.
Healthcare supply chain management technology helps organizations ensure that they always have the supplies necessary to meet patient demand.
Resilient supply chains can handle disruption and issues with suppliers. Healthcare organizations need resilient supply chains because the stakes are so high. Supply chain management technology can help medical providers build resilient supply chains so that when the next pandemic or supplier issue happens, they are not caught off guard.
The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated to many organizations just how fragile their supply chains were. With the proper management tools in place, your organization can build a more resilient healthcare supply chain.
Improved Care for Patients
At the end of the day, the patients are the most important part of healthcare. Healthcare supply chain management tools inevitably lead to improved outcomes and better care for patients.
Every medical provider strives to give their patients the best care possible. However, if you don’t have the right supplies, medication, or tools, it will be difficult to provide a high level of patient care. Supply chain management tools ensure that your organization has the supplies it needs to deliver world-class healthcare.
Supply chain issues are not fun to deal with. However, your medical organization can rest easy if it uses supply chain technology to reduce costs, build resiliency, and improve patient outcomes. If you want to learn more about healthcare supply chain technology, reach out to a skilled app development partner.