The importance of supply chain management in healthcare

In today’s competitive healthcare environment, organizations must be able to provide high-quality, high-value products and services to their customers. A supply chain is the process of planning, implementing and managing the efficient movement and storage of products from suppliers to a customer. In a perishable industry such as healthcare, the focus on minimizing waste has long been part of good business practice. This is why you might see a doctor prescribe medication in more than one dose when it may only be needed for one or two days. Supply chain management in healthcare focuses on creating an effective system for this product movement while minimizing risk factors that could impact patient safety.

Establishing an efficient supply begins with designing a network where all critical items are available in all required locations. This is where supply chain mapping comes in. By plotting the location, type and quantity of every product your facility needs, you create an effective map for dispensing. From there, implementing a well thought-out technology plan will decrease errors in the process and make sure that systems are reliable in real time when they’re needed most.

The next step to ensuring efficient supply management is inventory optimization . The goal here is to eliminate waste by finding out exactly how much of each product or tool you need at any given time and placing orders accordingly. One way to do this is with video analytics , which uses computer vision algorithms to detect supplies at rest. These types of technologies can be used on a mobile phone, tablet or kiosk to speed up the replenishment process and provide a high-level of efficiency.

Technology can also help you determine how much inventory is in use, when it needs to be replaced and which specific products are in need. This helps ensure that when there is a shortage, similar items from other locations can be used until the correct replacement item is ordered.

In addition, technology has been proven effective at mitigating error in medication dispensing. One study showed a 31% reduction in dispensing errors using barcodes compared with handwritten orders.

The implementation of RFID track-and-trace technology can further improve patient safety by helping professionals locate the right product every time. RFID technology can be used to track individual cases throughout the supply chain so that your facility knows where each case is at any given time. This also includes who has touched it, when they handled it and what procedures were performed on each product or piece of equipment.

Finally, by using tools for analyzing data about products’ use patterns at your organization, you can optimize how your supplies are used to minimize waste and maximize safety during storage and dispensing.

It’s no longer enough for healthcare organizations to simply meet demand. Today’s competitive environment calls for a focus on minimizing waste as well as eliminating error in medication dispensing . With a commitment to supply chain management best practices , these goals will become achievable for any healthcare organization, large or small.

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