Healthcare supply chains face cost, data hurdles
In the data-heavy world of 2017, health care supply chains face continued difficulties. The price of modernization, as well as the rise of more integrated technology, can put pressure on these organizations to try something new. Comparing the challenges and innovations shows what health care logistics has to look forward to in the coming years.
New technologies becoming commonplace
Some of the innovations we see as disruptive could set a powerful standard in the year to come. Last month, Healthcare Dive spoke to the medical delivery company Zipline through email about the possibilities of drone-based drop-offs. This service reaches remote communities in Rwanda and brings blood transfusion supplies where they might not otherwise go.
If efforts like this are successful, they could parallel the rise of remote video conference calls with physicians as parts of the health care community's push to reach more isolated patients. Another technology which could become more familiar is the reliance on the internet of things, which medical businesses could dissipate throughout complex supply chains and make asset and staff management simpler for various businesses.
This point comes from a Verizon Wireless Director of Enterprise Product Management & Business Development Thomas Villa. In an article for Healthcare IT News, Villa described the drug tracking and monitoring that newly wired and omnipresent devices can possibly provide. Adapting to and managing these devices, though, may prove their own challenges as businesses try to keep up.
Addressing counterfeit and tampered shipments
Drugs that aren't approved or are in some way dangerous have made their way to certain practices, according to the FDA. In a letter last year, the FDA announced that TC Medical distributed counterfeit Botox with some telltale markings on the outside of the package. It was unclear, based on this letter, exactly where the products come from, but the source definitely connected the counterfeit shipments to TC Medical.
This could be the sort of activity more sensors would help detect. Discovering these issues and taking steps to correct them could also require money and effort on the part of the affected business. Supplier relationship management could also stabilize relationships and ensure that production meets compliance needs.
Rooting out all costs
At the base of it all is the need to balance costs. In a recent press release, Black Book Market Research announced the results of a survey of 1,158 leading members in health care system procurement and technology.
Respondents said that 30.5 percent of a hospital's average annual operating budget goes toward supplies. Furthermore 57 percent of the surveyed C-suite executives didn't fully understand their supply chains' complexity.
Doug Brown, Black Book's Managing Partner, referred to the Enterprise Resource Planning-related decisions in the health care sector.
"Crucial back-end software that manages finance, supply chain and inventory management, purchasing, payroll and coding have been disregarded into a confused entanglement of different products that don't communicate and left executives with the inability to realize cost savings in preparation of value based care," he said.
These concerns together should make procurement managing a top priority for any health care supply chain management stakeholder in the future. Governance and risk management are major paths for revitalizing a supply chain fraught with issues.
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