The Need for Digitization in the Healthcare Supply Chain: Challenges & Benefits

The Need for Digitization in the Healthcare Supply Chain: Challenges & Benefits
8 min read

The digitization of the healthcare supply chain has become the need of the hour as hospitals, manufacturers, and distributors have experienced difficulty in tracking products, managing inventory levels, and streamlining operations. 

The major cause behind this urgent requirement for digitization includes the complexity and tediousness of traditional healthcare supply chain management.

Many of the problems faced by healthcare service providers are rooted in the complexity of the supply chain. Also, the lack of visibility amongst multiple entities ( manufacturers, distributors, and customers) leads to the malfunctioning of the supply chain for transferring medical products and services.

However, digitization helps to create an integrated supply chain management system throughout the process, making it much simpler and more efficient for healthcare organisations, manufacturers, and suppliers to track the inventory movement along with other significant aspects.

In this blog today, we will discuss how the digitization of the healthcare supply chain improves overall operational efficiency and enables healthcare providers to grow businesses and get a competitive edge.

Let's Go!

Challenges Face By Healthcare Service Providers

Healthcare service providers face multiple challenges while keeping an eye on supply chain visibility. Let's understand what those significant challenges are.

1. Unreliable Inventory Data

Healthcare service providers often have to deal with unreliable inventory data. This can make it difficult to get the information when they need it and make accurate predictions about when supplies will run out. A major challenge for healthcare service providers is determining the right amount of inventory to keep on hand.

2. Manual Errors

The inability to streamline manual processes and avoid errors is a major challenge. This can lead to wasted time, money, and resources that could be used in other aspects of the business.

Errors can be costly, time-consuming, and even deadly. In a recent survey of hospitals, more than 50 percent reported that they had been plagued with errors in recent years. The most common type of error was associated with medication administration, accounting for 30% of all incidents.  

These types of mistakes were also found to be responsible for 17% of adverse drug events among hospitalized children. 

It is, therefore, clear that while automated systems have become increasingly commonplace over the past decade or so, manual errors still account for a significant percentage of problems. 

3. Hoarding of Supplies

Hospitals often experience a shortage of vital medical supplies, such as saline, IV bags, and syringes, because the healthcare supply chain depends too much on distributors and third-party logistics. The lack of these supplies leads to an increase in the amount of time it takes for patients to receive their care. The hoarding of these supplies also caused many hospitals to be forced to close. 

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4. Wastage

The inventory tracking of traditional supply chains leads to major wasted supplies. Hospitals see waste due to hoarding or surplus inventory of medical devices, expired medical products, and unnecessary shipping costs.

How Digitization Helps Healthcare Supply Chain Management

Having discussed the challenges, let's understand how digitization can help you improve supply chain management.

1. Improved Patient Care & Engagement

The digitization of the healthcare supply chain is needed for improved patient care and engagement. With increased access to information, patients are better informed about their health, treatment options, and outcomes. 

They can make more informed decisions about their own care with better communication between providers and patients. Patients who participate in remote monitoring programs have also been shown to reduce their number of hospitalizations by up to 20%. 

2. Efficient Workflow

The digitization of the healthcare supply chain is needed to increase efficiency in workflow. This means that providers can better coordinate and collaborate with one another, as well as provide more care for their patients. Find a top mobile app development company for your project

With a more efficient workflow, providers will be able to take on more patients and provide better care for each patient they treat. For example, if a patient needs surgery, it's possible they'll have to wait until an open surgery spot becomes available. 

But with this digital system in place, it's possible surgeons could schedule surgeries months or years out based on availability. They'll also be able to prioritize surgeries and tailor them accordingly - all of which could mean shorter waiting times.

3. Complete Visibility and Transparency

At its core, supply chain management is a process that moves goods and services from point A to point B. To do this, it uses a series of different channels or steps. These steps range from the initial sourcing and procurement to the final distribution and delivery. 

The digitization of the healthcare supply chain ensures that all these channels are as efficient as possible. It creates better visibility through enhanced data insights so decisions can be made in real-time. 

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It also provides cost efficiencies by minimizing manual processes and errors while increasing compliance with regulations such as HIPAA.

4. Automation

The primary benefit of digitizing a healthcare supply chain is to increase efficiency. This can be done by automating processes that take up a lot of time for individuals and businesses in a supply chain. 

For example, digitizing healthcare supply chains would allow companies to have better control over inventory by ensuring items are not overstocked or out of stock. Companies would also be able to track their inventories more efficiently, which would help them know when they need to restock or when they need to order new inventory. 

Demand for healthcare is rising, as are the costs. Likewise, hospitals are looking at ways to reduce costs without compromising patient care. One way they're doing this is by digitizing their supply chain. 

This can be done with a cloud-based system that integrates information from different departments and suppliers into one platform, enabling hospitals to make more informed decisions about what supplies to order from which supplier when there's a shortage or other issue.

5. Data Accuracy

The digitization of the healthcare supply chain is needed because it will make sure that data is accurate and tamper-proof. This means that even if a single person at any point in the supply chain makes an error or changes the data, everyone downstream will be alerted to this.  

It also reduces manual input errors. Accurate records will ensure that doctors and patients have the essential information they need at their fingertips, which can significantly improve health outcomes, reduce medical errors, and streamline hospital operations. 

As more hospitals upgrade from paper-based systems to electronic records, it's important to make sure those electronic systems are interoperable so providers can share crucial information about what drugs each patient has been given or whether an operation was successful without delay or risk.

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6. Data Security

In this day and age, it is more crucial than ever to be vigilant regarding data security. It's not enough to just have a firewall in place and have antivirus software running. Instead, healthcare organisations need to look at the risks associated with what data is being collected and how it will be used. 

The digitization of the healthcare supply chain ensures security through encryption so sensitive information remains protected from hackers. It also allows authorised users to access it whenever they need to without opening up access unnecessarily.

Summing Up!

Healthcare providers are looking for crucial ways to improve supply chain visibility. Those who are still following the old supply chain visibility method face wastage of medical products and, likewise, additional costs. 

So it would be a wise decision for you as a smart healthcare provider to digitise your healthcare supply chain and take your healthcare business to a new height. You can contact any healthcare app development company and improve your healthcare supply chain by developing an app. So why delay? Take the first step to digitising your healthcare supply chain.

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Maria Murphy 394
I am Maria Murphy. Working as a Sr. Business Development Manager and empowering clients to exceed their business goals by enabling them to learn about social se...
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