3 opportunities to utilize the Internet of Things (IoT) in the healthcare supply chain

This modern era of technology, which consists of increased, virtual communication among machines, is paving the way to completely transform healthcare as we know it.

Our industry is becoming smarter and more efficient with every new technology breakthrough, and we must continually seek new ways to utilize the IoT capabilities to reduce waste in the supply chain.

The scope of current inefficiency in the medical devices market, for example, is staggering. These devices alone contribute to billions in waste annually. There are many other sources of waste including excess inventory, product loss, expired products, revenue leakage at the point of charge capture, and unnecessary shipping costs caused by poor inventory tracking and planning.

As cost pressures in the healthcare industry reach new extremes, the need to eliminate waste in the supply chain is critical. Consider these 3 opportunities to apply an IoT approach and take advantage of advanced technologies that will help promote efficiency in your hospital’s supply chain.

  1. Develop a holistic view of your supply chain, all the way from sourcing to storage. 

Opportunity #1: Leverage IoT technologies to enable cloud-based, system-wide inventory management with data analytics to connect products and processes with their true cost.

The healthcare supply chain is no longer just about manufacturing, distributing, and transporting products. In order to properly evaluate the value chain, it must be viewed holistically, encompassing both direct and indirect costs. This caliber of system-wide valuation demands data and lots of it – data that can be collected, aggregated, visualized and acted upon.

2. Invest in technology to improve the “user experience” for clinical staff.

Opportunity #2: Use the IoT’s connectivity and data-sharing capabilities to free the frontline staff from inventory-related burdens.

According to a recent survey, 42% said supply chain work takes too much time away from patient care, while 45% of frontline providers say manual supply chain tasks has a “very” or “somewhat” negative impact on patient care.1 Fortunately, there are advanced product-tracking technologies and automated systems that can help to alleviate these stresses and get clinicians back to their patients.

3. Adopt technologies to improve accuracy, speed, and spend. 

Opportunity #3: The healthcare supply chain is a strategic asset that can yield large financial savings, and the IoT is key to propelling change.

Surgeons and nurses have a big stake in improving supply chain operations. In fact, an overwhelming 94% of those surveyed recognize supply chain management’s strong correlation to financial success.2 These clinicians see the benefits of improving the hospital supply chain – properly balancing inventory levels to match usage patterns, reducing and properly managing product expirations, freeing up capital, and reducing patient risk are just a few ways to improve the speed and accuracy of supply chain management. Data gleaned from IoT connectivity provides visibility across the organization which enables change in addition to enabling proper management of consignment, accurate clinical documentation, and product and workflow standardization across entire enterprises.

About Cardinal Health Supply Chain Survey
This study was fielded January 16-28, 2019, using an online survey methodology. The samples were drawn from SERMO's Online Respondent Panel of Health Care Providers, which includes over 600,000 medical professionals in the United States. The study included 306 respondents total from health care organizations varying in size, specialty and practice area. Respondents included frontline clinicians (n=81), hospital administrators (n=75), supply chain decision-makers (n=75), and procedural department management personnel (n=75).All survey data is on file at Cardinal Health.

[1] Cardinal Health Supply Chain Survey Fielded Jan. 16-Jan. 28, 2019

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