The Supply chain in common parlance refers to the resources needed to deliver goods or services to the final consumer. In the healthcare sector, managing the supply chain is quite complex and is a fragmented process. The healthcare supply chain is the activity of managing supplies and delivering the required products and services to end users or patients. It involves the regulation of the flow of medical goods and services from the manufacturer to the patient.
The promotion of efficiency in the healthcare supply chain by enterprises in healthcare sector can create huge cost reduction opportunities. The clinical staff involved in healthcare supply chain management is responsible for stocking hospitals/healthcare centers with the product providers needs and in managing inventory.
The healthcare sector is witnessing enormous changes in the way goods and services are being delivered as it is becoming much smarter and efficient with new technology breakthroughs such as the Internet of Things or IoT. The healthcare industry is seeking new ways to leverage the capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) to cut waste in the supply chain.
In healthcare, wastage forms a major source of inefficiency especially the medical devices market. These medical devices alone contribute to billions in waste annually with cost pressures reaching to new extremes. Besides, the other sources of wastage include revenue leakage at the point of charge capture, expired medicinal products, unnecessary shipping costs due to poor inventory planning and tracking.
The emergence of big data and IoT for their capability and applicability is resulting in the healthcare landscape to go for further automation of things like predictive modeling, selecting ideal test subjects and diagnoses in general. In the case of the healthcare supply chain, IoT can be beneficial in the following ways-
IoT can be leveraged by hospitals to enable data analytics with their cloud based, system wide inventory management thereby connecting products and processes with their actual cost. A system wide valuation requires or demands a lot of data and with IoT lots of data can be collected, aggregated, visualized and acted upon to arrive at real or exact direct or indirect costs for making the right decisions.
The clinical staff is the backbone of providing patient care but about 42% of clinical staff spends too much time on manual supply chain tasks resulting in declined quality of patient care. By using Internet of Things connectivity and data sharing capabilities healthcare firms can free up their frontline clinical staff from inventory related burdens. The modern product tracking technologies and automated systems can result in improving user experience for clinical staff.
The hospital management can yield larger financial savings with IoT by properly balancing inventory levels to match usage patterns, reducing and properly managing product expirations, reducing patient risk and also freeing up capital. Data derived from IoT connectivity devices provides visibility across the organization that leads to proper management of consignment, accurate clinical documentation such as using EHNOTE and workflow standardization across entire healthcare enterprises.
Finally, it can be concluded that employing IoT to collect and distribute data between the entire supply chains such as Hospital – Vendor – Logistics can indeed bring down the costs.