Internet of Things (IoT) Day: 3 takeaways for the healthcare supply chain

Whether we realize it or not, we’re past the age of the Internet and well into the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) in which increased, virtual communication among machines is poised to completely transform healthcare as we know it—making the industry smarter and more efficient. Thankfully so because there’s simply no more room for wasted time and money.

The scope of current inefficiency in the medical devices market, for example, is staggering. These devices alone contribute to an estimated $5 billion1 in waste annually. There are many other sources of waste including excess inventory, product loss, expiry products, revenue leakage at the point of charge capture, and unnecessary shipping costs caused by poor inventory tracking and planning.

As you celebrate the Internet of Things Day (April 9, 2017), the implication for supply chain is simple: Waste must – and can – be eliminated. Consider these three supply chain opportunities, and how eliminating waste with an IoT approach and advanced technologies can help promote efficiency:

  1. View the supply chain holistically and expansively, from sourcing to usage.
    The healthcare supply chain is no longer just about manufacturing, distributing, and transporting products. In order to properly evaluate the value chain, therefore, 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.

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

  2. Invest in technology to improve the “user experience” for clinical staff.
    According to a recent survey, physicians and nurses report spending nearly 20 percent of their work in a week on supply chain management tasks – like searching the store room for a specific cardiac catheter or counting the number of products used in a case. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed would trade this time to be with their patients. But with advanced product-tracking technologies, like radio frequency identification (RFID) systems, clinical documentation can be as easy as waving a product by an RFID-reader in the operating room.

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

  3. Adopt automated technologies to improve accuracy, speed, and spend.
    In a recent survey, supply chain leaders estimated $500,000 in annual savings using automated
    supply chain technology. 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 automation can improve the speed and accuracy of supply chain management. Data gleaned from IoT connectivity is also enabling proper management of consignment, accurate clinical documentation, and product and workflow standardization across entire enterprises.

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

Tech savvy and visionary hospitals and health systems are adopting this Internet of Things approach to the way they manage products and processes to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and improve the total cost of care. How can your hospital take advantage of the connectivity and efficiencies that IoT and automated technologies have to offer?

1PNC Healthcare; GHX quantitative research study (August 2011)

About Cardinal Health Hospital Supply Chain Survey
This study was fielded Oct. 19 - Nov. 4, 2016, 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 403 respondents total, including frontline healthcare providers in hospitals (n=201), service line leaders in hospitals (n=100), and hospital/supply chain administrators (n=102). All survey data on file at Cardinal Health.


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