Robust and resilient healthcare supply chains are the backbone of quality healthcare in any society. The supply chain can be complex and goes beyond obtaining resources and delivering goods and services to providers and patients. It involves ensuring that hospitals always have a stock of life-saving tools and drugs. It also benefits the patients who can get the required treatment on time. The digitalisation of the supply chain is a solution that can ensure this and provide much more.
1. Data and Information Sharing
In the last decade, the healthcare sector has gone through major changes. Several institutions and organisations in healthcare have been pursuing research related to logistics and integration to offer the best possible services to patients. One of the most critical areas of this research is to predict critical market demand with accuracy.
Information sharing is the key aspect of a robust supply chain system that can solve this problem. As producers and retailers share information about the stock, the former gets better clarity about the inventory.
Digitalisation also helps in enhancing the quality of the information. It helps in sharing real-time data for the producers to accurately understand the changing shift in the market. Technology puts distributors, suppliers, retailers, producers, and sellers on the same page.
2. Optimising Costs
Hospitals that depend on manual or inefficient tools for managing inventory, supply expenses, and other supply chain management responsibilities tend to suffer losses and compromise on the care quality. Analytics, such as inventory tracking, supplier consolidation and evaluation of data on a case-to-case basis, can help hospitals manage any goods that are about to expire.
Digitalisation offers a single source of truth to understand cost-of-good and cost-to-serve. Hospitals can do further data analysis for benchmarking and assessments.
3. Minimising Errors and Variations
Hospitals rely on a just-in-time procurement strategy, which is not the most effective way to ensure quality care to patients. After the pandemic, there will be greater synergies between branches to deliver comprehensive care to a patient.
To enhance efficiency, digitalisation will become imperative. It will ensure better system integration and information sharing. A report by McKinsey says that using advanced methods of forecasting can reduce errors by 30 to 50 per cent.
4. Reducing Waste
More often than not, flaws in the system lead to wastage in hospitals. Due to inefficient inventory management, the wastage of expensive medical equipment and devices in any country can run between $10-14 billion.
Digitalisation offers the benefit of centralising data for further data analysis. For instance, it allows the identification of opportunities to reduce waste. Systems can also give a better view of products from material providers, manufacturers, health care providers, and consumers.
Moving supplies to locations with greater demand can help in reducing wastage too. It is an essential step to ensure that hospitals are well-stocked to manage any sudden requirements.
5. Centralised Data
Digitalisation is particularly useful for large hospital chains. As they adapt to advanced systems, they get better visibility of inventory status, usage, and ordering. They can also customise the solutions to cater to their requirements. For instance, they can leverage real-time data to predict seasonal demands and move their supplies across locations to address a shortage.
A central control tower management also allows them to track shipments in real-time and avoid delays.
The digitalisation of the healthcare supply chain is the way forward for hospitals to offer quality healthcare services to patients.
- With quality and timely data, and information sharing, stakeholders can predict the demand and take suitable action to reduce wastage and ensure appropriate inventory.
- By replacing manual or unsophisticated tools, such as spreadsheets, digitised supply chains can bring in more efficiency and reduce costs.
- A central dashboard offers better visibility of inventory status, usage, and ordering. It also helps in moving medication to places of shortage for the benefit of patients.