Survey: 26% of supply chain leaders considering self-distribution

Self-distribution is increasingly on the minds of health system supply chain leaders, according to a new survey from Swisslog Healthcare.

The Journal of Healthcare Contracting conducted the online survey for Swisslog during a one-month period in 2016. The survey includes responses from 67 health systems nationwide — a majority (92 percent) of which are nonprofits. Most respondents hold executive management level positions, and 43 percent represent a vice president or senior vice president level.

Here are five findings.

1. Of the health systems polled, 37 percent had no plans to self-distribute, 37 percent were already practicing self-distribution and 26 percent were considering self-distribution.

2. While health systems of all sizes reported moving toward self-distribution models, larger health systems with more than 20 hospitals had the highest implementation rates.

3. Respondents cited the following reasons as "important" or "very important" for implementing self-distribution: standardization, direct purchasing, reducing inventory waste, reducing inventory overhead, automating manual processes, adding service lines and cleansing their item master.

4. Most respondents (92 percent) said their hospital was focusing on centralizing the distribution of medical/surgical service line, followed by the print shop service line (56 percent) and laboratory service line (48 percent).

5. More than half of health systems already practicing self distribution (56 percent) said they would have purchased more automation in hindsight. These respondents cited pick-to-voice technology (20 percent) and radio-frequency identification technology (20 percent) as future material handling equipment considerations, according to the report.

To view the full report, click here.

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