How To Optimize Medical Supply Chain Management In Healthcare 

Updated on October 5, 2022

For most businesses, a supply chain is only as good as its weakest link. This fact is undoubtedly true for healthcare. The whole industry centers on assisting others in taking care of their well-being. If there were any delays in supplying patients with their much-needed medication or equipment, it could have fatal consequences. 

Any company dealing in supplying medical equipment to their clients must ensure the process runs smoothly without any major problems. For this to happen, medical supply businesses should optimize their supply chain management accordingly: 

  1. Source products from online distributors 

In an era when most businesses have pivoted toward everything digital, the healthcare industry must adapt its operations to conform to this global trend. Those who don’t miss out on excellent opportunities to provide a better service to patients and save valuable time and money on their operations. 

The many benefits of ordering supplies online will give a healthcare company a definitive edge over providing better care and open up new possibilities in the process. Sourcing and purchasing online offers a broader range of products from various distributors, improved availability, competitive prices, and fast delivery. Additionally, most medical supply companies will have a return or refund policy that can assist those in the healthcare industry in returning defective or expired stock. 

Ordering supplies online doesn’t only hold benefits for healthcare businesses. Above all, they can provide their patients with more options to choose from, a more functional process, and improved communications about what other services they can get. 

  1. Effectively control the flow of inventory 

Along with the operational benefits of online technology, healthcare companies can improve communication with their distributors and patients. One critical responsibility of supply chain management is effectively controlling the in and out flow of inventory. For this, a healthcare company must communicate with everyone involved in the process. 

Inventory flow depends on the concept of supply and demand, where healthcare companies order specific items, and the medical supply company delivers these to them. Without sufficient stock, a healthcare company might not provide the care its clients need. As a result, a healthcare company must let their medical supplier know when stocks on certain equipment or supplies are low. 

  1. Implement more technological advances 

Before technology, supply chain management was a function a point person had to keep on track manually to prevent as few errors as possible. However, currently, there are software solutions, automation, artificial intelligence, and many other technologies to assist them with this task. 

When implemented correctly, these measures can assist all staff members in saving time on menial tasks, leaving them available for more important things. Also, supply management tools can increase the accuracy levels for managing medical supplies by cutting out human error. 

Companies can improve their ordering system through online platforms when they need to restock, which technology allows them to track effectively. According to recent statistics, 60% of large healthcare organizations agree that they could benefit from this automation. 

  1. Ensure accurate and efficient deliveries 

Delivery of the products from the supplier to the healthcare company still uses the old-school method of loading the products into a vehicle and transporting them to their final destination. However, everything leading up to the delivery can be more streamlined if managed correctly. 

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Online ordering, for example, allows the company to fulfill orders faster than usual. That way, the correct medical supplies can reach the healthcare business without life-threatening complications. Consumers can place their orders, track their shipment’s progress, and be happier with the service they receive. 

  1. Minimize risks through proper planning 

One of the most critical determinants for risk management is to build resilience throughout each part of the process. In recent times, many healthcare supply chains suffered due to not anticipating sudden changes in the market and not having a proper way of adapting. This case was especially evident in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For some healthcare companies, technology has been the answer to how they’ll build resilience. Others found a more cost-effective way, like switching to online ordering from distributors. The fact is that each supply chain will have its own set of challenges to face, meaning a healthcare company must find solutions to mitigate these risks accordingly. 

A proper plan can assist the medical supply chain avoid common risks like fraud, theft, lost client orders, driver accidents, weather restrictions, and many others. Consequently, when staff are aware of the procedures to follow in these cases, they become more flexible and ready for any situation. 

  1. Hire experienced, knowledgeable staff 

Although technological applications are taking over some parts of the supply chain management process, healthcare companies will still require various staff to ensure the success of their supply chain. After all, patients and even medical supply companies will still deal with an actual person over online platforms. 

Furthermore, staff with the necessary training prevent significant supply issues, handle damaged stock, monitor the supply and demand process, and avoid making critical mistakes. Even if companies have to spend more to keep their staff informed of the latest inventory management techniques, it will ensure a high standard of service to their patients. 

Most healthcare companies will expect these set of skills for team members that will be part of their medical supply chain: 

  • Communication skills 
  • Relationship management 
  • Systematic work ethic 
  • Forward thinking 

While these characteristics or skills are critical, there are many more that companies can add to the list. Companies often request a formal qualification like a diploma or degree. Some inventory management systems require a certain number of hours to qualify for them. So sufficient knowledge on specific software is something a healthcare company needs so they make sure the staff they hire has an understanding of the sensitive medical supply chain process. 

From Start To Finish 

One could liken any supply chain to a dance between all the different partners involved. As soon as one has done their part, the next one steps in to take over, and issues could arise in this handover.  

Healthcare companies that optimize their supply chain management can avoid these problems, properly prepare a plan of action, and become more resilient in the process. They can achieve all this while providing the best possible service to their clients. 

Medical supply chain optimization is about more than technology only, although it could play a vital role from start to finish.