Healthcare Supply Chain Management
Who are the Stakeholders, and what is healthcare supply chain management?
The Healthcare supply chain is described as the procurement and distribution of products and services to serve patients. Managing relationships with suppliers and consumers to deliver the best consumer fulfillment cost-effectively is the objective of a supply chain. Supply chain management is a fragmented strategy; it includes obtaining resources, managing supplies, and providing goods and services to patients and healthcare providers.
A supply chain usually starts with a manufacturer that makes the medical products and ships them to a distribution center. Healthcare institutions or hospitals can instantly buy the products from the distributor or manufacturer. Further, the products are moved to the organization and stored in an inventory.
The healthcare industry involves different types of supply chains. The two most important supply chains are:
Pharmacy Supply Chain
Supply chain management has a crucial role for hospitals to ensure the timely availability of medicines at the minimum possible price. Supply chains involve various supplier merchandiser agreements, rounds of negotiation, floating tenders, and freezing on the product shipping process. The stakeholders cannot predict market demands for any medicine independently; therefore, capturing the exact requirement to consume drugs to get its current market trend is necessary. It is a general formula where demands are maximum than supply or reverse, as low demand and high availability. To stop such circumstances, market research and study of the drug flow supply chain are important.
Medical Devices Supply Chain
Medical devices and equipment are a vital part of the healthcare field. Devices like X- ray, MRI, and mammogram machines are commonly susceptible and need specialist handling. It is essential to work with the manufacturers and logistics providers who
have a piece of in-depth knowledge and experience handling and providing such sensitive products in the proper condition to their destination.
Who are the Stakeholders in the Healthcare Supply Chain Management?
Based on supply chain functionalities, stakeholders are categorized into four categories:
These are the four major stakeholders participating in almost every supply chain. The manufacturer’s position in the healthcare supply chain is to produce the needed medical products and deliver them to distributors. Anyone who buys the medical stores (generally wholesalers or retailers) from the manufacturer and carries the responsibility to disseminate them to the people can play the purchaser /distributor’s role. Hospitals, pharmacies, or clinics are the healthcare providers who intend to deliver the best possible healthcare services to their patients.
Moreover, for handling all the operations such as distribution, transportation, inventory management, warehouse management, etc., logistics are involved in the supply chain.
Logistics are liable for two primary parts:
First, managing resources, i.e., capacity management (ambulance, wheelchair, etc.), warehouse management (drugs, medical devices, and equipment, etc.); and second, workflow management, i.e., shipping, routing, etc.
Healthcare Supply Chain Management Solutions
Some essential elements to ensure when choosing a supply chain automation system include the following:
- 1. Communication :Integrates systems and operates hospital workflows and procedures by sending and receiving files for both clinical and financial systems.
- 2. Ease-of-use : Enables managers, operators, and care providers to accomplish efficient system processes and maintain the standardization of procedures.
- 3. Scalability : Contains consolidated management tools for both single and multiple site locations.
- 4. Open, flexible design : Helps users complete data integrity for the devices in use.
- 5. Reporting and analytics : Develops accurate, real-time inventory reporting data from receiving to patient care.
- 6. Supply chain methodologies : Includes PAR, EOQ/ROP, and Min/Max, Kanban, ROP/ROQ, and Consignment capabilities; utilizes sound procedures and practices for specific department needs related to supply chain demands.
- 7. Superior service : Develops effective clinical and financial workflow design, defines implementation needs, and provides support before, during, and after implementation.
The objective and significance of healthcare supply chain management
The major objectives of healthcare supply chain management are to enhance visibility and efficiency across the supply chain and, in recent months, this has also come to include the strategic goal of upgrading supply chain agility and resilience—a must during these times of increased uncertainty and volatility in both supply and demand conditions. Getting health supply chain management right means that supply associates are better able to detect and resolve bottlenecks, potential disruptions, and other problems occurring anywhere in the end-to-end supply chain. It can help enhance patient care and safety while at the same time reining in waste and unneeded spending.
The primary activities involved in healthcare supply chain management have monitoring and keeping the flow of medicines, medical supplies and equipment, and
medical services from manufacturer to patient. It contains supply chain quality management and planning, supply chain automation and optimization, and supplier relationship and risk management. When companies leverage digital tools and technology to carry out healthcare supply chain management, it involves using actionable insights acquired from multi-sourced data to continuously adjust and optimize supply chain systems and processes.
Operating digital technology to enhance healthcare supply chain management
An increasing number of companies are adopting the latest technologies to support and transform supply chain management in the healthcare sector. COVID-19 has produced digital transformation initiatives in the pharmaceutical industry and far beyond. There are creative and easy-to-implement tools available now that are helping organizations dismantle their data silos, a long-standing issue in healthcare, and create applications permitting them to integrate supply chain data with clinical data.
Technology like the digital supply network, our cloud-based supply chain networking technology, makes it more comfortable for companies to link up their supply chain systems with electronic health records (EHR) and other clinical systems. By connecting supply chain data with electronic medical records and other similar data sets, an organization can standardize, streamline, and automate time-consuming business processes thereby reducing costs while also improving patient results and establishing a clinically integrated supply chain that is patient-centered and proactive.
Another technology useful for healthcare supply chain management is multi- enterprise work management software. These applications allow patient-centric orchestration across the end-to-end healthcare value chain. They help teams work together across functions internal and external to the company to further enhance visibility into supply chain processes and increase supply chain resiliency. They help supply associates build trusting and mutually profitable business relationships through the sharing of strategic goals and concentrating collaboration. Trading partners can share data and actionable insights through standardized, secure, and permission interfaces and work together to resolve the problems currently plaguing healthcare supply chains.
Benefits of digitizing healthcare supply chain management
The connected supply chain, or supply chain 4.0, is robust and resilient, capable of adapting quickly to changing circumstances and healing quickly from sudden disturbances. By leveraging the new healthcare supply chain technology, healthcare institutions are digitally transforming healthcare supply chain management, making it more comfortable for them and their trading associates to streamline and optimize the supply chain. They are using this technology to obtain real-time, granular visibility into their supply chains from end to end, letting them identify and deal with potential problems and obstacles earlier and pivot fast when the situation demands.
By linking supply chain and clinical data, they can use healthcare supply chain analytics to more accurately forecast demand, optimize inventory planning and management, and react more effectively to changing market circumstances. By fostering increased communication and collaboration across the healthcare supply chain, digital supply chain management tools can also help increase productivity and speed time to market. And by building trust and clarity across the supply network, they enhance supply chain resiliency, helping to make a healthcare value chain that can better respond to and recover from the challenges of future pandemics and other public health crises.
The future of healthcare supply chain management
A digital supply chain network like TraceLink's, which is designed to handle the complexity of healthcare supply chain management, offers organizations in this fastly growing sector the transparency and end-to-end visibility they need—through real- time data flows, communication tools, and collaborative workflows—to manage a complicated and expanding network of trading associates. It can assist them to identify and resolve supply and demand issues earlier and before patients and their bottom line are adversely impacted. And because it lives on the cloud, network partners get the scalability and flexibility they need to incorporate and leverage robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, predictive analytics, and other cutting-edge supply chain 4.0 technologies.
TraceLink's multi-enterprise work management software further assists organizations in driving joint innovation and developing patient-centric supply chain networks. Supply partners can work together more effectively to orchestrate patient results in new ways and create new digital operating models suited for the future of healthcare. Healthcare institutions can leverage TraceLink's multi-enterprise work management applications and digital supply network to guarantee that every patient gets the treatments they require when and where they need them. Network associates are empowered to work together for the greater good, and global populations get improved access to life-saving medications and better care made possible through digitized healthcare supply chain management.
Transformation of the healthcare supply chain can do more than just improve the bottom line. Pharmaceutical and medical device organizations can move towards delivering safer and affordable access to products that could improve and even help save many people’s lives worldwide.