Hospitals need blockchain for supply chain automation

hospital supply chain

“A supply chain is the network of all the individuals, organizations, resources, activities and technology involved in the creation and sale of a product, from the delivery of source materials from the supplier to the manufacturer, through to its eventual delivery to the end user.”

At hospitals though, the customers aren’t really customers but patients and the sales people aren’t really sales people but doctors and nurses. The real product everybody wants at a hospital or clinic is their own improved health, a satisfying experience and affordable pricing.

An injured patient in a hospital emergency room or a sick child at their local urgent care clinic isn’t thinking about a doctor or nurses shift cycles or lack of sleep or preferences in the equipment and drugs all around them. A child might think some cutting edge new lamp is cool, but if it’s not a satisfying experience or the hospital staff weren’t friendly, it’ won’t matter.

How can all these inventory and resource challenges make a difference in health outcomes, patient experiences and healthcare costs.

Hospitals don’t operate like Walmart or Amazon or Nike. Supply and demand means something entirely different. And the changing expectations and outside mobile influences of patients as consumers doesn’t always sit well with a highly regulated industry like healthcare.

Supply chain management, inventory management, medical device asset management has become a key security issue, optimization and efficiency issue, and a cost problem for hospitals.

Reimbursements and Costs

Supply chain management costs consistently rank as some of the largest expenses for healthcare and hospital systems. A recent survey of healthcare executives and administrators in the USA revealed that productivity improvements and healthcare supply chain cost reductions are their top priorities. Value-based reimbursement models are being implemented by many hospitals because of the Affordable Care Act built-in incentives for healthcare providers to coordinate patient care with a “pay-for-value” model, based on performance and results, rather than the traditional “pay-for-service,” where the cost of care was often paid upfront.

Many hospitals and healthcare leaders are looking at how they can provide an improved patient experience while reigning in costs.

And with this, many healthcare leaders are looking to the healthcare supply chain as one of the biggest areas for savings opportunities . Integrating blockchain for supply chain automation can help alleviate some security pressures, audit trail regulations, and ensure things like total landed supply costs—the total cost of getting a product from manufacturer to the hospital or physician’s office.

This is no easy task and a lot of “i trust this person but I don’t” makes this a perfect use case for blockchain. Supply chains go beyond the initial purchase price and include things like logistics costs, duty fees, taxes, insurance, and other fees.

A more holistic and end-to-end secure approach to the healthcare supply chain is not only about improving efficiency and reducing costs to the hospitals and healthcare systems, but about providing better healthcare in the least lead time and at lower costs to the patient.

Efficient & Secure Data Integration, Automation and Analytics

Integrating, aggregating , transforming, automating and and analyzing data along the supply chain trail can provide better indicators of product need, cost optimization strategies and helping to reduce waste, stabilize inventory and, ultimately, bring costs down.

Tracking and securing smart medical devices with IoT sensors mean technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems integrated with AI and blockchain, can help automate the entire supply chain process.

Better data analysis that’s secure and automated data ensures improved efficiency levels, maximizing inventory costs and utilization, all of which can help reduce costs, an automated, technology-based supply chain can help improve patient outcomes by supporting a higher level of patient care.