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Healthcare Logistics & Supply Chain Management: Improving Patient Outcomes

By Reid Cohen

The essential mission of logistics and supply chain management is to efficiently plan, organize, and coordinate the movement of goods from a point of origin to a point of consumption. Analyzing and aligning supply chain goals with a patient-first approach enables healthcare organizations to reduce costs while improving patient outcomes. With PatientDirect, a care delivery solution from HRS, our in-house logistics team provides patients with the telehealth equipment they need when they need it.

Logistics & Supply Chain Management Explained

Supply chains are the networks of interconnected businesses and stakeholders that engage with a product to deliver it from a point of origin to the point of consumption. The goal of supply chain management is to efficiently link these various networks and organize an end-to-end strategy that reduces cost and improves shipping speed without decreasing the quality or value of the product for the consumer.

Logistics is an essential component of supply chain management, with responsibilities that include generating detailed processes to plan and coordinate the complex transportation of goods by providing timely, safe, and reliable shipping. At the heart of any well-run supply chain is a logistics department designing innovative ways to facilitate the flow of products and information from suppliers to consumers.

Logistician Peter Reed describes the relationship between logistics and the supply chain in the following way: “supply chain comprises all aspects of a product cycle from origin to end user, for example from farm to fork. Logistics relates to one component of supply chain, addressing efficient product movement, such as from manufacturer to retail store.”1

Efficiently managed supply chains produce the most value when individual business goals are unified to form an end-to-end approach to delivering goods. Operating with the success of the entire supply chain in mind enables better collaboration between partners, leading to innovative logistics solutions that benefit the growth of businesses in a variety of ways.

Benefits of Investing in Logistics

Understanding your business’ supply chain and investing in more effectively organized logistics increase product value by reducing both the cost and amount of time spent moving materials from one point to another. For businesses that are seeking opportunities to grow, it’s important to have a logistics foundation in place that can facilitate a safe, timely, and reliable delivery of goods at a reasonable cost as operations scale.

Day-to-day logistics services vary based on the industry but usually consist of tasks such as order processing, warehousing, and last – but certainly not least – shipping. In addition to these items, logisticians also deliver data summaries to supply chain partners in an effort to increase the visibility of goods as they move from point to point. Better transparency between logistics partners can be achieved by coordinating live tracking updates and establishing open lines of communication to improve customer support.

The stakes for delivering products in a “timely” fashion varies from industry to industry.  In healthcare, being late to deliver goods such as important medical devices is simply not an option for supply chain managers – when the consumer is a patient and the product is a potentially life-saving device, timing is everything. An efficiently run supply chain communicates this with all stakeholders to reliably ensure that all products will reach their point of use on time and in working order, without incurring additional costs.

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How To: Healthcare Logistics

From delivering prescriptions to providing patients transportation to and from the doctor, innovation in healthcare logistics facilitates the evolution of a new kind of value-based supply chain. The healthcare supply chain’s goals must be reexamined in order to fit a new patient-centered model of care delivery, adapting to the individual needs of agencies along the way. This will help improve patient outcomes while also strengthening long-term supply chain goals between partners by utilizing a holistic approach to supply chain management that centers both patients and clinicians.

Some of the biggest challenges in healthcare logistics include waste management, storage and inventory management, device maintenance and sanitation, and shipping. And it can be difficult to build alternative solutions when you’re dealing with a lack of efficient storage space, increasing labor costs, and frustrating manual procedures that need to be carried out by clinicians.

In a 2019 Cardinal Health survey, 42% of respondents said supply chain work takes too much time away from patient care and 45% of front-line providers say that manual supply chain tasks have a “very” or “somewhat” negative impact on patient care.2 By rethinking the supply chain to make it work for clinicians, we can develop logistics services to reduce clinician burnout while enabling caregivers to spend more time interacting directly with patients.

Health Recovery Solutions is interested in developing solutions that last, and investing in our own in-house logistics team was the first step towards designing a more efficient supply chain for delivering telehealth services. PatientDirect, our telehealth home delivery solution, assists agencies by reducing costs while improving quality of care, making telehealth more accessible for organizations that don’t have the space or staff to invest in inventory management or device sanitation.

PatientDirect: A Seamless Telehealth Delivery Solution

In the PatientDirect warehouse, our in-house logistics team works with your organization to make sure patients receive the telehealth equipment they need when they need it. HRS telehealth units are managed off-site at a centralized shipping facility, where orders are processed and quality-checked before shipping directly to patients.

Our patient-centered logistics program services logistical challenges facing healthcare organizations such as inventory management, device maintenance & sanitation, and shipping. PatientDirect orders and returns can be easily placed on www.shiphrs.com and all orders are automatically processed on the same day, generating a quicker delivery of care with reduced downtime. Kits are cleaned, tested, and shipped directly to new patients along with live tracking updates. Once a patient is discharged, the HRS logistics team tracks and coordinates the return of their equipment to generate a quick inventory turnaround time. We provide shipping labels and schedule home pickups to quickly and effectively return units from all over the country with inventory tracking support.

By identifying inefficiencies in the healthcare supply chain, we’ve been able to design solutions to increase efficiency, drive down cost, and improve positive patient outcomes. From managing kit inventory to sanitizing devices, PatientDirect improves space utilization while reducing labor costs, allowing clinicians to invest more resources directly into patient care. With the use of a patient-first, end-to-end supply chain solution like PatientDirect, the future of expanding access to telehealth looks bright!

 

Sources: 

(1) https://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/good-question/

(2) Cardinal Health Hospital Supply Chain Survey, January 2019.

 

Tags: cost savings, logistics, patient direct, SCM

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