Jul 28 2022

Taking Stock of Healthcare Supply Chain Management

Organizations looking to strengthen their supply chain management can turn to these strategies.

Over the past two years, shortages and logistical issues have plagued the healthcare supply chain. With critical equipment and medical devices in short supply, providers and governments have revamped their procurement processes. Some have succeeded, as Cleveland Clinic did, by tracking items using radio-frequency identification technology.

Wherever loss prevention is paramount, such strategies have prevented orders from slipping through the cracks. It’s a lesson in how technology can strengthen supply chain management.

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1. Rely on Automation to Improve Healthcare Supply Chains

Healthcare staff often find supply chain documentation tracking to be a headache: 86 percent of nurses from a 2021 study expressed discontent with their systems. Additionally, 80 percent want more supply chain automation.

Many staffers still place orders manually after receiving notice that an item is in short supply. That method is highly inefficient and prone to error. Alternatively, computerized automation and barcode scanning are transformative. Each disposable item is codified and tracked. Once the electronic inventory hits a minimum threshold, the system automatically places an order. This helps prevent shortages.

READ MORE: How can healthcare organizations use technology to solve supply chain issues?

2. Capture Effective Supply Chain Analytics with AI Algorithms

Similar to automation, analytics can help healthcare organizations make educated guesses about how they use supplies. Repeated patterns of use or disuse can help staff understand what happens to core items after they arrive.

But hospitals should not necessarily hire data scientists for such tasks. Numerous programs — powered by artificial intelligence algorithms — can shoulder this analytical burden. Users with minimal technical skills can harness these systems if there’s a reliable data pipeline. Combined with automation, facilities can operate proactively.

DISCOVER: How to build a supply chain risk management program.

3. Mitigate Supply Chain Vulnerabilities in Healthcare

Connected systems, including the Internet of Things, support strategies that weren’t previously viable. However, remotely managed always-on supply chains are prone to cyberattacks. Forescout researchers have discovered seven supply chain vulnerabilities impacting medical and IoT devices, making it clear that organizations must prioritize security.

This advice extends holistically to supply chains. Successful hacks can expose sensitive data. They may also disable your electronic supply chain entirely. Accordingly, adhering to best practices is integral to safeguarding your pipeline.

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