Healthcare Software in Hospital Supply Chain Management
Healthcare Software in Hospital Supply Chain Management
Within a hospital or any other large clinical setting, efficient management supply chain management is critical. This ensures that there are always enough medical supplies, medications, and equipment. After all, the healthcare system’s ability to provide high-quality care depends on such supplies’ availability. When any inefficiencies occur in the system, the supply chain can come to a halt, and with that, the quality of patient care goes down.
In recent years, an increasing number of healthcare providers have been making use of software to assist with supply chain management. After the COVID-19 pandemic, where many hospitals found themselves in short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessities, many providers have taken the initiative to reduce the likelihood of something similar happening.
In this article, you can learn more about how healthcare software can help with hospital supply chain management.
Understanding the Supply Chain in Healthcare Settings
There are many stakeholders involved in the running of a hospital. From manufacturers and purchasers to government institutions and insurance companies, the provision of goods and services is constantly flowing in and out.
Due to the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more hospitals are prioritizing efficient supply chain management. This includes ensuring that all processes are transparent and that the supply chain is resilient enough to take on any minor disruptions. A contingency plan for significant disruptions should also be standard practice.
Did you know that supply expenses can make up as much as 15% of total hospital expenses? This makes it the second largest component of hospital spending after payroll. This is just one good reason to take a second look at your hospital supply chain management and start using hospital inventory management software.
Supply Chain Challenges
A common challenge faced by supply chain management in hospitals is the lack of physician engagement. In some cases, physicians can make purchasing decisions independently without receiving any peer or industrial advice. In other cases, suppliers don’t ask clinicians about the supplies they require, ending up with equipment and devices they do not need while lacking what is required.
Some other challenges you may have faced include:
- The need to adhere to FDA guidelines when disposing of a recalled drug. After this process, you will have to update your inventory to indicate which medications are safe alternatives to the recalled drug.
- Before suppliers can develop devices, such as ventilators, defibrillators, and heart valves, they need approval from regulatory agencies. In addition, devices approved for use in some countries or regions may not be approved for another location.
- There are strict guidelines to be followed regarding storing and prescribing controlled substances. This ensures unauthorized persons and patients will not access these substances. However, it can add a layer of time and complexity to the supply chain process.
Supply chains can be affected by many factors that are not within our control, the most obvious example in recent memory being the COVID-19 pandemic. Other factors can include natural disasters, the outbreak of seasonal diseases, terrorist attacks, and more.
What to Look Out for in Hospital Supply Chain Management Software
Hospital supply chain software can come with many functions. Depending on your budget and the size of your practice, you may have different priorities. On the most basic level, you should ensure that any software you choose is user-friendly and scalable. Ideally, it should also provide communications between financial and clinical systems, allowing the different systems you use to integrate seamlessly.
On top of that, it will also be helpful if your software can provide a reporting and analytics function. This allows you to quickly access the inventory information you need regarding restocking and determining if you have enough to take on a higher level of patient care. Unlike general supply chain management software, hospital supply chain management software should also have the specialized capability to deal with medication recalls, drug organization and the automated replacement of high-priority items and consumables.
Some of the essential functions you may wish to include are as follows:
- Order Processing: This function will deal with other processing, fulfillment, and billing.
- Procurement and Sourcing: A large part of the process can be automated: from putting spending limits to evaluating supplier bids. As a bonus, you may also want to watch out for performance analysis tools that can let you know how much you have spent and whether you have exceeded your budget.
- Warehouse: This function helps you to optimize the usage of any storage space available, informing your decision whether it’s the right time to take in new supplies.
- Inventory: An essential function that allows you to tell at one glance whether you need to replenish any items. It also allows you to track the movement of supplies across various locations, mainly if you are part of a clinically integrated network.
- Shipping: Keep track of your shipments efficiently, ensuring you always know where they are at any given point.
Healthcare Supply Chain Best Practices
Besides making use of fit-for-purpose software, there are numerous best practices you can follow to ensure a resilient healthcare supply chain. Some of them include:
- Forming Good Relationships with a Network of Suppliers, Distributors, and Manufacturers
From time to time, you may find that your primary supplier cannot keep up with your hospital’s needs and demands. When you have formed strong working relationships with a vast network of suppliers, distributors, and manufacturers, you can implement a contingency plan to get supplies from them when necessary.
- Working with Other Healthcare Providers to Form a Clinically Integrated Supply Chain
The most obvious benefit of this practice is that you can pool and share limited resources during a crisis. Other benefits include having the expertise of a purchasing committee, receiving discounts for large group purchases, being part of physician-led value analysis, and lots more.
- Taking Data Analytics Seriously
It always helps to review your budget regularly. This will help to identify any issues you may be facing, anticipate any supply chain disruptions and allow for pre-emptive resource planning.
- Make Use of Automated Processes
Alongside your supply chain management software, is your hospital already using automated processors to keep track of data? Not only does this reduce the chances of human error, but it also allows key stakeholders to access the information they need much more quickly. This can facilitate the rapid making of needed decisions in the event of resource capacity.
Allow Vicert to Customize a Digital Health Solution for You
If you are looking to develop and implement hospital supply chain management software, let our experienced team at Vicert assist you. Having perfected our skill of developing digital health solutions over decades, you can be confident that we will devise an approach that works well for your healthcare establishment. Our aim is not only to improve your overall operations but to ensure that your patients can benefit from the highest quality of care delivery.
Our comprehensive range of services also includes developing a patient engagement portal, implementing health cloud solutions, and many more. Regardless of the specific issues, you wish to resolve or the concerns you may have, you can be sure that our team will take the time to listen before recommending the best approach. Feel free to look at our success stories and contact us to start today!