Dr Vinoth Kumar C
DGM & Head -Materials,
Apollo Adlux Hospitals

Future-fit SCM for achieving excellence – The need of the hour

In today’s evolving healthcare landscape, a successful hospital should have a supply chain that aligns with the corporate strategy connected with performance, patient safety, and clinical outcomes. A future-fit supply chain is the one that joins supply chain systems with HIS to achieve the triple-aim goals (better health, better care, lower costs), and the organization’s specific objectives around quality, safety, and cost. The organization should identify its critical goals and objectives and those need to be connected with supply chain for better performance and clinical outcomes.

Integrated robust supply chain. An integrated robust supply chain incorporates all appropriate stakeholders into its processes. It takes into consideration the roles of administrators, physicians, clinicians, finance and allied departments to deliver high-quality, cost-conscious products and services that improve patient outcomes. It requires the involvement of physicians and clinicians because they are the largest consumers of supplies within the hospital. Engaging physicians and educating them will help to determine shared goals and understand the direction and processes of improving the supply chain and patient outcomes. Most of the physicians are unaware of the cost impact of the materials they use. Value-analysis meetings have to be conducted periodically and that will be beneficial for clinicians to understand the costs associated with care. During such meetings, an accurate and validated data on standardization and utilization provides insightful information and plays a key role in decision making for clinical alignment and cost reductions. Standardization of products helps to achieve supply-chain value by significantly cutting costs on overhead costs associated with multiple suppliers and multiple products.

Automation and analytics. Automated technology today delivers supply chain data and analytics, which can support patient safety, reduce costs, and improve workflows. Many hospitals adopt manual SCM processes, using outdated and inefficient methods for managing the flow of devices and products that require intensive staffing to handle multiple, redundant systems. These systems typically lack data sharing and transparency necessary to provide hospital staff with vital information. The management feels a lack of urgency around updating the supply chain and introducing solutions that would address manual inventory-management challenges. This tedious manual approach can result in expiry of products and stock outs which lead to not having the right supplies at the right time.

Supplier relation management. In most of the hospitals, the role of the supply chain professionals is confined only to negotiations and in cost reductions, which means that they are not involved in real business and that leads to increase in risks and reduction in overall value of the service to the patients. The supplier-relations management plays a crucial role beyond the price, resulting in maximizing value and minimizing risks. Most of the hospitals start managing supplier relationships only when they face problems or unpleasant situations with suppliers and that consumes quite a lot time and resources, which could have been better spent on more important business processes. Ideally, the relationship management should start even much before an agreement with supplier is signed, to avail the competitive advantage of the business in the long run, and such an approach can lead to a successful relationship and much better results will accrue than the through traditional way of managing relations. A long-lasting, mutual, and trusted relationship with the suppliers should be the primary goal of supply-chain departments in hospitals. The healthcare organization that focuses on and enhances supplier relationship results in eliminating risks, increased efficiency, significant cost savings, continual improvement, revenue growth, improved clinical outcomes, and the highest level of patient satisfaction. A future-fit supply chain system enabled by automated technology can give full visibility and transparency into our supply-chain processes across an entire organization. If it is implemented effectively, it integrates clinical and non-clinical best practices, improves patient care and better clinical outcomes, reduces errors, reduces supply waste, facilitates continuous improvement, and provides real-time tracking to route supplies and significant cost reduction.

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