The healthcare industry is becoming smarter and efficient with every new technology breakthrough and is expected to constantly seek new ways to leverage the capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) to cut waste in the supply chain.

Experts have observed that something like staggering is still a source of inefficiency in the medical devices market. The devices alone are contributing to billions in waste annually. Other than this, the sources of waste include excess inventory, expired products, product loss, revenue leakage at the point of charge capture, and even unnecessary shipping costs that are caused by poor inventory planning and tracking.

With cost pressures in healthcare reaching new extremes, it has become critical to eliminate the waste in the supply chain. IoT approach takes advantage of advanced technologies that has the ability to promote efficiency in a hospital’s supply chain.

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Three ways in which IoT can help improve supply chain management of the healthcare industry are:

Developing a holistic view of the supply chain

Hospitals can leverage IoT to enable data analytics with their cloud-based, system-wide inventory management. This can help connect products and processes with their actual cost. Experts opine that now healthcare supply chain is not just about manufacturing, transporting and distributing products; to properly evaluate the value chain it has to be viewed holistically and encompass the direct as well as the indirect costs. This type of system-wide valuation demands a lot of data that can be collected, visualized, aggregated, and acted upon.

Improve the efficiency of clinical staff

According to the Cardinal Health Supply Chain Survey that included responses of 600,000 medical professionals in the US, 42% of professionals believe that supply chain work takes time away from patient care.  Almost 45% of frontline providers also said that the manual supply chain tasks even has a “somewhat” or “very” negative impact on patient care. IoT’s connectivity and data-sharing capabilities can be used to free the frontline staff from such inventory-related burdens. Experts advise using the advanced product-tracking technologies as well as the automated systems to help alleviate the stress of supply chain tasks and get the clinicians back to their patients.

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IoT to improve accuracy, speed, as well as spend

Experts consider the healthcare supply chain as a strategic asset that has the potential to yield significant financial savings. They believe that IoT is key to propelling that change. Doctors, nurses, and surgeons have a considerable stake in improving the supply chain operations. An overwhelming 94% of the medical professionals that were surveyed identify the correlation between supply chain management and financial success.

These clinicians look at the benefits of improving the hospital supply chain, which includes appropriately balancing inventory levels to match usage patterns, freeing up capital, reducing and adequately managing product expirations, and reducing patient risk to improve the accuracy and speed of supply chain management.

Data generated from IoT connectivity provides visibility across the organization enabling proper management of consignment, product and workflow standardization, and accurate clinical documentation across entire enterprises.

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