Supply chain management in healthcare is a very fragmented and complex process. Management of healthcare supply chain involves gathering resources, managing supplies, and delivering goods and services to patients and providers. The physical goods and information about medical products and services have to pass through several independent stakeholders like insurance companies, manufacturers, providers, hospitals, group purchasing organizations, and several regulatory agencies before the completion of the supply management process. But before diving straight into the process, let’s try to understand supply chain management in simple terms.
What is supply chain management?
Supply chain management is the process of managing supply chain activities to maximize the value of a customer and acquire a sustainable competitive advantage. It reflects a serious and conscious effort by the supply chain firms towards developing and running supply chains effectively & efficiently. Supply chain activities involve processes ranging from product development, production, sourcing, and logistics. It also includes information systems that coordinate these activities.
Healthcare Supply Chain Management Trends
#1. Standardization of patient care
Standardization of care is a very crucial instrument to make healthcare sustainable, especially from the perspective of a patient. Healthcare supply chain management will pave the way for this instrument. The supply chain sits on the valuable cluster of data that can help in determining not only the best price but also the best results in the healthcare industry. It will help in changing slow, inefficient, and wasteful processes involved in the process of healthcare.
#2. Increase in use of data and advanced analytics
Big data and advanced analytics are benefiting supply chain management. The growing need for forecasting supply chain outcomes is one of the driving forces behind the increasing need for reliable data. This is one of the popular trends that is emerging in healthcare supply chain management. The use of advanced analytics helps in identifying:
- Benchmarks of supply chain performance
- Integration of clinical data with supply chain data
- Transparency of data across the supply chain
Data is crucial for improving quality, cost, and outcomes and helps providers and suppliers to take an informed and strategic approach to supply chain management. Advanced analytics is not only improving the supply chain itself but is also crucial for analyzing the outcomes. It also helps in making decisions about cutting the cost and savings initiatives. Moreover, cloud computing is also helping healthcare become an industry driven by data. Access to the valuable data leveraged by certain software like PREDICT facilitates supply chain teams to aggregate purchases across several types of projects and hospitals to minimize costs.
#3. Innovation caused by changing population health
The health of the population is changing every day, and this is one of the major trends driving innovation in healthcare supply chain management. Increasing chronic health issues is creating a more patient-centric supply chain and is leading to an environment where care can be provided as and when patients need it. This trend is going to make healthcare delivery and supply chain management more integrated.
#4. Clinically integrated supply chain management
A clinically-integrated supply chain plays a very crucial role in the success of the healthcare industry. Clinicians and supply chain professionals work in synchronization, share their ideas, compare outcomes and make informed decisions. Physicians are maintaining a relationship with supply chain professionals to avail a better guidance on price points, results, and alternatives. With the role of automation, there is a decrease in the order errors by suppliers and cost providers that they commit through inaccurate payments, invoices, and products. The providers and suppliers with the help of an automated process can catch discrepancies in no time and address issues in real time.
By promoting efficiency in the healthcare supply chain management, physicians and hospitals can create cost-reducing opportunities across their organization.
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