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Automation in Healthcare Supply Chain Management: Reducing Costs and Improving Outcomes

With the economy’s current state, healthcare system costs are soaring. At this rate, keeping up with costs and regulations is putting healthcare providers at risk of sacrificing the quality of patient care.

Managing the healthcare supply chain is one of the most complicated processes in the industry. With the quality of healthcare at risk, this process includes a careful collaboration between various stakeholders. Whether it’s suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, or healthcare providers, everyone’s collaborative efforts ensure functional supply chains.

However, there is a new roadblock hitting the healthcare industry. Unfortunately, traditional supply chains aren’t just inefficient, but they are also incredibly labor-intensive. Some of the tasks they perform are repetitive and can be done much more quickly. Thus, traditional supply chains are resulting in higher costs, which may drive up the cost of healthcare.

This article will cover the importance of automation in healthcare supply chains. Aside from improving outcomes, there are a lot of benefits that can be achieved if the healthcare industry embraces technology. Here’s why it’s crucial to upgrade the supply chain immediately to avoid any hiccups later down the road.

Current State of Healthcare Supply Chain Management

Currently, there are a lot of places for improvement in the current healthcare supply chain management systems. For instance, most traditional systems require a multi-level process for the procurement of goods and services. Then, it has to pass through inventory management and distribution before finally being delivered to the patients.

While this process may sound okay, it is severely fragmented, which causes a lot of hiccups, delays, and incurred costs. The coordination between stakeholders we mentioned earlier isn’t efficient enough to ensure a smooth supply chain. Hence, this process leads to waste and errors that are easily avoidable.

Furthermore, there are a few challenges that are making matters worse for healthcare supply chains. With the pressure of keeping healthcare costs as low as possible, there is little incentive to invest in improving its efficiencies. However, since there is an increase in the demand for healthcare following the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to see why an efficient and resilient healthcare system is crucial to move forwards.

With these challenges, healthcare organizations are tasked with a monumental challenge to upgrade existing supply chains rapidly. These organizations are increasingly turning their attention to automation, which has been shown to be highly beneficial and effective in dealing with some of the problems.

Thus, automation can help streamline complex procedures that take humans time to complete. For instance, procurement, management, and distribution can all be automated to reduce costs, improve outcomes, and, more importantly, increase the efficiency of the supply chain. However, despite the potential benefits of automation, many healthcare organizations have been slow to adopt this technology.

Lastly, automation adoption has been slow due to barriers such as cost, complexity, and resistance to change. In the next section, we’re going to consider how automation can transform the healthcare supply chain management system and the benefits it can provide.

Automation in Healthcare Supply Chain Management

Automation is a game-changer for healthcare supply chain management, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way things are done. Healthcare organizations can make supply chain processes much more efficient by leveraging cutting-edge technologies like AI, robotics, and blockchain.

One of the major benefits of automation is its ability to reduce costs. Hence, automating procurement and inventory management helps eliminate manual errors, optimize inventory levels, and reduce waste. With increased accuracy in orders, the need for emergency orders can also be minimized, which can ultimately save healthcare organizations money.

Moreover, automation can enhance patient outcomes by ensuring that the right products are available at the right time. With real-time data and analytics, healthcare providers can make informed decisions about product usage and inventory levels, resulting in fewer stockouts and an improved patient experience.

However, it doesn’t just end there. Another major benefit of automation is its ability to improve efficiency and save time. Time is crucial in the healthcare industry, which is why many companies look towards automation. Thus, automating repetitive tasks like data entry and tracking can allow healthcare providers to focus on other crucial tasks, like patient care!

Despite the benefits of automation in healthcare supply chains, it has been met with a lot of pushback. Most organizations are hesitant to adopt automation due to the costs, complexity, and overall resistance to change. Overcoming these challenges would entail investing in staff training, and only time will tell if more companies choose to adopt it.

Demonstrating the Potential Benefits of Automation

To properly demonstrate how automation can change supply chains, we wanted to show an example of how it can be implemented. A real-world example is the ideal way to show how automation can transform healthcare supply chain management and make it much more efficient than it currently is.

Firstly, we’re going to consider a large hospital that has decided to automate its inventory management system. With the help of RFID, tags, and barcodes, the hospital has managed to track the usage of its medical supplies. Furthermore, since the software can automatically analyze data and present trends, the hospital decides to switch its decision-making to a more data-driven approach.

Finally, the hospital has managed to overcome two major roadblocks in the healthcare industry. First, it will always have necessary supplies since the system will warn the supervisor when supplies are running low. Furthermore, it has reduced supply chain costs by over 25% since a lot of the manual tasks are now being handled efficiently with software.

The Way Forward

In conclusion, automation has the potential to transform healthcare supply chain management and bring about numerous benefits. By adopting automation solutions, healthcare organizations can significantly reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve outcomes.

However, implementing automation solutions can be challenging, and healthcare organizations must invest in staff training and education to ensure successful adoption. It’s also essential to partner with vendors like qBotica that are certified with companies such as UiPath to implement automation solutions gradually and ensure a smooth transition.