How total healthcare logistics and tailored solutions are helping health systems improve efficiency and optimize spend

The global pandemic exposed the need for health systems to reevaluate their supply chains, placing an exceptional strain on healthcare transportation logistics.

During a June webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review, Brad Wilson, vice president of sales and services at Cardinal Health OptiFreight® Logistics, and Osvaldo Torres, director of strategic sourcing at UChicago Medicine, discussed these challenges, along with opportunities and solutions supply chain leaders should consider in the wake of the pandemic. 

Five key takeaways from the webinar, summarized below, included adopting a centralized, total logistics system with comprehensive, tailored solutions to reduce shipping costs, optimize efficiencies and help supply chain leaders be better prepared for what lies ahead.

  1. A centralized total logistics management solution can optimize efficiencies and decrease spend throughout a health system, no matter its size. OptiFreight® Logistics is a leading healthcare logistics provider offering comprehensive shipping solutions to control and reduce costs across every transportation modality. With a supplier network of more than 7,000, the business supports 60 percent of U.S. hospitals and more than 2,000 customers with centralizing and optimizing their total healthcare logistics. OptiFreight® Logistics coordinates shipments for over 22,000 shipping locations worldwide. OptiFreight® Logistics solutions generate more than $600 million annually in savings for customers.

    OptiFreight® Logistics advances total healthcare logistics through three key principles: tailored, scalable solutions, committed experts with diverse experiences and perspectives, and innovation and insights, involving technology and data analytics. OptiFreight® Logistics works with leading health systems to provide Advanced Solutions, which is, "a centralized total logistics management system tailored to continually optimize logistics efficiency and spend inside, outside and around a health system,” said Wilson.

  2. The pandemic increased the need for rapid logistics support. Due to COVID-19, nearly every health system faced – and is continuing to experience – extreme supply chain and logistical challenges. During the pandemic, OptiFreight® Logistics assisted health systems with rapid logistics support to ensure shipments with life-saving equipment, treatments and supplies could be delivered on time, despite shipping challenges faced on a global scale.

    For example, UChicago Medicine had to quickly pivot to facilitate COVID-19 testing across the region. "This brought on logistical challenges that needed to be addressed like transporting testing supplies and samples across this complex network," Torres said. The Advanced Solutions team at OptiFreight® Logistics engaged UChicago Medicine's courier service, providers and lab stakeholders to develop routes and processes to quickly support this growing operation and meet demand.

  3. A holistic approach to managing shipping improves efficiency and reliability. OptiFreight® Logistics helps health systems engage in total logistics management, working with health systems to take a holistic approach to managing shipping. This helps health systems improve transportation efficiency and reliability, while containing costs and better managing total spend.

    “This multifaceted approach [involved] identifying opportunities everywhere, from supplier management, contract rates, mode optimization and stakeholder management,” Torres said in the webinar. Torres continued to explain that taking a total logistics management approach has helped UChicago Medicine get to 90-percent managed volume and achieve a 47-percent reduction of spend related to on-demand courier orders, with no negative impact on patient care.

  4. No two health systems or hospitals’ needs are alike, making the case for a tailored approach. In this environment, health systems need tailored solutions. “Everything OptiFreight® Logistics does is about tailoring solutions to customer needs,” Wilson explained in the webinar. "There are no off-the-shelf answers, as every health system's needs are unique. They need more than a logistics provider; they need a logistics advocate,” he added.

    OptiFreight® Logistics provides a team of committed experts who leverage a comprehensive set of offerings to tailor solutions. The idea of tailored solutions resonated with Torres and UChicago Medicine. He cited challenges the health system was having in running its own in-house courier operation, with expenses moving in the wrong direction. OptiFreight® Logistics helped tailor solutions for UChicago Medicine to optimize efficiency and lower overall costs. This included optimizing service levels for residential pharmacy shipments. "If you try to make it one-size-fits-all, you leave a lot of value on the table," Torres said.

  5. Data and analytics improve visibility and identify optimization opportunities. "We don't know which opportunities to target without the right data and the right visibility into where our spend is going," Torres said in the webinar. Wilson then explained that a solution like OptiFreight® Logistics not only analyzes the cost of each logistics service, but it also evaluates how and why each service is used and reveals lower-cost shipping opportunities.

    For example, OptiFreight® Logistics recently announced the launch of its new offering, TotalVue™ Analytics, an innovative analytics tool that helps users maximize discounts, optimize total logistics spend and benchmark performance versus peers to seek new efficiencies and savings. The tool is just one of a number of new tech-forward investments OptiFreight® Logistics is making in its business to evolve its services and to support a next-gen digital supply chain. Using innovative technology, TotalVue™ Analytics maximizes discounts and manages even more of OptiFreight® Logistics customers’ total spend while benchmarking performance against industry peers to seek new opportunities for efficiencies and savings.

Overall, the webinar highlighted the need for supply chain leaders to consider a solution like OptiFreight® Logistics to optimize and automate their healthcare transportation logistics across the continuum of care. Doing so will help health systems and hospitals plan for what’s ahead, take greater control of spend, and cut through complexities to identify new efficiencies. To learn more about OptiFreight® Logistics, visit cardinalhealth.com/optifreight. To view the full webinar, click here.

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