7 supply chain lessons from auto and retail industries

While hospitals are not factories and patients are not cars, health systems can learn valuable logistics lessons from the automotive and retail industries, according to Mark Graban, author of the book Lean Hospitals.

Mr. Graban developed seven supply chain lessons — based on his knowledge of automotive, electronic and industrial products — to help hospitals and health systems turn their supply chains into a strategic asset.
 
He recently shared these seven tips during a webinar hosted by Cardinal Health.

1. Focus on real, value-added work: Today, nurses spend about 30 percent of their day searching for supplies and managing equipment. Improving processes and implementing new technology within the supply chain can reduce waste and help clinicians shift focus away from the stock room and back to patients.

2. Keep supplies closest to the point of use: Clinicians should feel at ease knowing all storage locations are properly stocked with supplies — where and when they need them — so they can grab a product with minimal walking or wasted motion.

3. Eliminate or automate counting: Eliminate manual tasks with new approaches and hardware, such as two-bin Kanban systems or cabinets and wands enabled by RFID technology, which can automatically track where high-value supplies are and whether they're recalled or reaching expiration.

4. Manage inventory based on data: There is $5 billion of waste annually in high-value medical devices supply chain alone, according to data from a GHX quantitative research study done in 2011. It's imperative to analyze usage data to plan for the amount of supplies needed, leading to fewer stock-outs, less expired product and more efficiency.

5. Maintain visibility across the entire supply chain: From the point of manufacturer to the point of use, every part of the supply chain should be transparent to every person involved.

6. Ensure the supply chain works for everyone: Patients, healthcare professionals and health systems should feel equally supported in the supply chain. Clinics should be fully stocked, supply chain leaders should have visibility across the supply chain, physicians should have up-to-date tools, nurses should have access to products quickly and patients should leave feeling they had the best care possible.

7. Adapt, don't adopt: When learning from others, understand the problem they were trying to solve and adapt — not adopt — to meet your challenge.

More articles on supply chain:

Eli Lilly offers insulin discount after years of price hikes
5 ways robots could change warehouse design
FDA new drug approvals for 2016 lowest in 6 years

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