Hospital supply chains are at the forefront and face the brunt of the many challenges to health care. Some of those concerns are:

Keeping the many moving parts of the chain working like a well-oiled machine
Securing high-quality equipment without spending exorbitantly
How best to handle medical surplus
Increase visibility
Optimize data

The list can go on; I’m sure I left out a couple of essential items.

During my stint in supply chain services at a large hospital, I accumulated some practical ideas over the years about finding ways to reduce costs and enhance the overall supply chain as a vital entity. Example:

Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) and cloud-based systems will provide greater insight for visibility.

Outsource the logistics operations, to a third-party, reduces supply costs and offers a reduction in workforce.

Make equipment purchases and/or lease; why? Current pieces need upgrading or replaced because of wear and tear, new technology, or it just plain broke. For these reasons, consider new equipment and software. Be sure that the affiliated warranties, guarantees, and product/customer service agreements are included. “While low-interest rates might make it much more economical for hospitals to purchase, leasing often remains the better option.” Says David Lips, healthcare transactions attorney. So, leasing supply chain equipment will eliminate some of the challenges.

Preferred vendors, having a selection of freight and shipping companies as priority providers, as agreed upon and negotiated inbound and outbound discounts, is advantageous.

Accurate data is vastly important in the grander scheme for dealing with supply chain challenges. Therefore, an in-depth review of core areas for improvement, followed by the implementation as required can significantly reduce those problems.

Furthermore, a Navigant Consulting study involving 2,300 hospitals’ supply chain, nationwide, reveals that 30 percent of operations are represented by supply chain spending. Providers can reduce budget spending by $10 million annually, per hospital, according to Alven Weil of Navigant’s Healthcare Thought Leadership. “You don’t have a lot of control over the pricing of drugs,” stated Rob Austin, associate director of Navigant. However, there is wiggle room in other supply areas, according to Austin.

Actually dealing with every challenge and looking at those problems as opportunities for improvement, goes along with a statement made by the Chief Executive Officer of UF Health
Shands, Edward Jimenez, in Gainesville, Florida, "As an academic health center, our doctors, nurses, providers, and staff are constantly learning and improving on best practices."

Brian Cook, President, and CEO of North Florida Regional Healthcare stated that his organization works hard to equip staff with patient-centered decision-making skills and the latest healthcare technology.

Whether on patient floors, managers’ offices or in executive suites, the continuing challenges of hospital supply chains are significant but not overly burdensome and can be dealt with successfully. As Sir Winston Churchill stated, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Overall, communication is most important and will carry the day.

Michael W. Robinson, Professional Speechwriter.


© 2017