How disruptive technologies are streamlining the provider supply chain: 5 insights

Hospitals and health systems are increasingly turning to cloud platforms or updating their legacy tech systems to achieve operational excellence in not only their back office but also across the entire organization.

Most healthcare organizations have already deployed EHRs and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms. Now, particular attention is being paid to back-end operations to drive the integration between clinical and administrative operations, according to John Harvey, executive director of healthcare industry services at Oracle.

During an Aug. 20 webinar sponsored by Oracle and hosted by Becker's Hospital Review, Mr. Harvey discussed how hospitals and health systems can take advantage of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, chatbots and IoT devices to improve overall administrative and clinical functions for both employees and patients.

Five insights:

1. Leverage disruptive technologies. By implementing chatbots or digital assistants, health systems can decrease the amount of time caregivers spend looking for supplies during their shifts. Instead of going to the supply room and looking for the proper equipment, the caregiver doesn’t need to run back to a workstation, they can use a chatbot to place an order and / or check on the status of the materials.

2. AI and machine learning streamline the supply chain. These technologies assist with functions such as anomalies detection, predictions, recommendations and trend identification.

"For supply chain resources, it's always that random order that someone meant to place for 10 each but they actually ordered 1,000, and that order then goes down a store room or the purchase order," Mr. Harvey said.  "An anomaly detection is one example of how AI and ML can help; the system would say 'Hey John, you generally only order 10 of these. Did you mean to order 1,000?' to double check the order before it goes through."

3. Cloud technologies pull together data analytics. Moving supply operations to a cloud platform allows the hospital or health system to view supply spend on specific departments or across the organization as a whole. Integrating clinical, financial and supply chain data helps drive sharper insights into supply performance trends, such as the organization's performance with on-time delivery times. 

4. Forecasting and replenishment tools create a plan. Healthcare organizations can use forecasting and replenishing tools to generate a supply demand plan specific to the needs of each department. Pulling historical data on supply use and consumption allows the organization to do a forecast of where inventory is used most and least and then manage projected stock out, automate purchase orders and replan orders based on the amount the emergency department, operating room or other departments need.

5. Forecasting allows healthcare organizations to be more proactive. By implementing a forecasting and replenishing process, providers can reduce excess and obsolete materials and ensure proper departments and clinicians have the supplies they need.

According to Mr. Harvey, "It frees clinicians so they can be at the bedside or with other clinicians to ensure a smooth transition … during a shift change [instead of] trying to fill shelves or locate supplies before they go off their shift and the next shift [begins]."

Click here to view the webinar.

More articles on supply chain:
Quest raises 2020 financial outlook
New Jersey nursing home faces $28K in fines over inadequate PPE supply
AHA supply chain leader urges healthcare industry to evaluate stockpiling, avoid slipping back into old habits

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