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Examine and centralize your purchased services

According to the American Hospital Association*, purchased services spend has eclipsed 50% of non-labor costs for many organizations.

Unfortunately, purchased services are a broad category that’s difficult to standardize. Whether it’s IT or facility management, when any purchased services you employ aren’t fully examined, you lose opportunities to:

  • Gain actionable insights
  • Reduce costly redundancies
  • Align teams and save valuable time and effort
  • Increase efficiency across multiple locations
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Hospital Supply Chain Management

In today’s complex healthcare environment, timely delivery of medical equipment and supplies is as essential as the skills of nurses and doctors. This is where hospital supply chain management (HSCM) steps in. This particular form of healthcare supply chain management is the key to keeping hospitals stocked with necessary supplies at the right time, in the right quantities, and at the right cost.

So, what is hospital supply chain management? HSCM is the interconnective web that spans all medical supply procurement, storage, and utilization aspects. It starts with identifying the hospital’s needs, finding suppliers, negotiating contracts, and ordering the items. Just as with other industries such as manufacturing, supply chain management in hospitals and other healthcare settings is essential for operational success. It’s perhaps even more serious for hospitals, as patient care depends on items being in stock.

HSCM professionals are concerned with stocking today’s shelves, predicting future demand, forecasting inventory levels to avoid shortages and overstocking, and monitoring supply movement from warehouse to patient bedside. Medical supplies comprise an essential part of a hospital’s operating budget. Smart HSCM strategies support cost optimization, negotiate favorable contracts, deconsolidate processes, and reduce waste while increasing the hospital’s financial sustainability.

Imagine a surgeon without gloves, a patient needing an emergency drug that’s not in stock, or a broken-down ventilator because parts are missing. Effective HSCM ensures providers always have the resources to deliver optimal care. Well-managed supply chains mean fewer hours dealing with urgent shortages and more time to deliver the best patient care.

Proper HSCM is also necessary for regulatory compliance. Healthcare is a highly regulated sector. HSCM follows strict guidelines for handling medicines, hazardous materials, and medical equipment to prevent patient and hospital risks.

A robust healthcare supply chain management system is not a luxury but a necessity. HSCM professionals are the invisible hand that keeps healthcare machinery running smoothly and patient needs to be met efficiently and reliably.

Importance of Supply Chain Management in Healthcare

The importance of supply chain management in healthcare is readily apparent. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Ensuring access to critical supplies: Imagine an ER without bandages, an operating room without sutures, or an individual requiring a medication out of stock. Efficient HSCM ensures timely availability of critical medical supplies, allowing doctors and nurses to provide high-quality care.
  • Maintaining patient safety: HSCM entails stringent monitoring of expiration dates, storage conditions for sensitive drugs, and sterile environments. These safeguards are necessary to prevent patient injury from expired, contaminated, or mishandled supplies.
  • Cost control: Another major concern is healthcare costs. With effective HSCM, hospitals negotiate better prices with suppliers and identify cost-saving opportunities. These efforts lower a hospital’s bottom line without sacrificing patient care.
  • Regulatory compliance: The health sector is subject to many rules. HSCM helps hospitals follow guidelines for drug storage and disposal, requirements for medical device tracking, and controlled substance standards.
  • A boost to operational efficiency: A simplified supply chain means fewer hours on administrative tasks and more time spent on patient care.

Hospital supply chain management in healthcare settings is arguably the most critical administrative activity in the entire organization. It is central to delivering quality, cost-effective, and safe medical care to hospital patients.

Analysis of the Process Flow in Detail

The hospital supply chain management process flow is a sequence of steps planned out in detail. Here is a detailed analysis of the process flow in a typical hospital:

Needs assessment: It all starts with understanding what the hospital needs. This involves collaboration among clinical staff, supply chain managers, and department heads to assess current inventory and forecast future needs. For example, the oncology department predicts the increased number of patients needing a particular chemotherapy drug. They notify the supply chain team to keep stock on hand. This is true for critical items in use across the organization.

Sourcing and procurement: HSCM professionals identify trustworthy suppliers, compare prices and contracts, and place orders for required items. Quality, price, and reliability are the factors that help the hospital choose a new supplier for surgical gloves.

Receiving and inspection: Supplies are loaded at the hospital’s loading dock. Here, they are carefully checked against the purchase order to verify accuracy and inspect for damage. For instance, IV pumps are received, and each device is checked to see if it is functional and meets specifications.

Inventory management: Received supplies are placed in areas according to temperature control, expiration dates, and security requirements. Inventory levels are continuously monitored for re-orders. One example is how medicines are kept in temperature-controlled refrigerators, and the system warns staff when supplies run out.

Requisition and distribution: Departments submit a requisition when supplies are needed. Supplies are retrieved from inventory and delivered to the unit that requests them. An everyday example is sterile suture kits, ordered by the surgical unit and distributed promptly by supply chain personnel.

Monitoring and reporting: The last of the usual hospital supply chain management process flow steps is monitoring. Supply usage, costs, lead times, and other metrics are tracked in HSCM. Reports are generated to identify trends, areas for improvement, and cost-saving opportunities. An analysis might show a generic version of a drug could save millions without compromising the quality of care.

The hospital supply chain management process flow is dynamic and evolving to meet changing needs. Your organization’s process may look different than this hospital supply chain management process flow example. Effective implementation of these steps is essential to delivering superior patient care while preserving the hospital’s operating costs.

The Role of Software In Hospital Supply Chain Management

So, what is the role of software in hospital supply chain management? As you might imagine, it’s a pretty significant one.

Software solutions radically transform hospital supply chain management (HSCM). Traditionally, health systems were very manual, spreadsheet-driven, and fragmented, with high levels of error and waste. Today, however, a robust ecosystem of hospital supply chain management software exists that can simplify and automate many of the challenging aspects of HSCM.

They include inventory management, demand forecasting, and automated re-ordering software systems. Real-time visibility of inventory allows staff to quickly find what they need without spending time looking for it and lowers the risk of stockouts. Demand forecasting models fueled by data analytics and even artificial intelligence help predict future demand while critical supplies are always available. These systems avoid costly emergency orders by automating re-ordering when stock levels fall below predefined levels.

Hospital supply chain management systems also assist with supplier management and contract negotiation. Centralized databases hold supplier information, performance history, and contract terms. These tools enable hospitals to make more informed sourcing decisions based on price transparency. Integration with EDI systems provides automated ordering and invoicing to reduce the administrative burden.

In addition to simplifying processes, these software systems provide valuable information. They produce reports on supply usage, spending, and supplier performance. HSCM managers can analyze this data to find cost savings opportunities, identify inefficiencies, and optimize supply chain strategies. Software plays an essential role in hospital supply chain management. These provide the time, accuracy, and data-driven insights necessary to make healthcare supply chains more responsive, effective, and cost-efficient for patient care.

Supply Chain Management Best Practices in Hospitals

Strong hospital supply chain management (HSCM) best practices are imperative for efficiency and patient safety. Here’s a look at the best practices in hospital supply chain management

Data-driven decision-making: Reliable data is the foundation of supply chain management. Investing in systems to monitor inventory levels, usage trends, and costs enables accurate forecasting, stockout prevention, and waste reduction.

Collaboration and communication: HSCM should be collaborative. Open communication among supply chain managers, clinical staff, and department heads enables timely needs assessment and efficient inventory flow. A proactive approach is regular meetings on supply issues and future needs.

Standardization: Standardizing medical supplies can save money. According to an industry study, hospitals collectively waste more than $25 billion annually by not standardizing medical devices or suppliers. Proper HSCM is critical to a standardization plan.

Supplier relationship management: Establishing good relationships with reliable suppliers is important. Open communication, proactive forecasting, and team problem-solving can lead to timely deliveries and reduced disruption.

Continuous improvement: HSCM can never be static. Review processes regularly, analyze performance metrics, and identify areas for improvement. Technology upgrades and process refinement are critical to keeping the supply chain agile to changing needs.

The effectiveness of these hospital supply chain management best practices is documented. According to the most recent value report from the Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA), effective HSCM, in collaboration with group purchasing organizations (GPOs), brings maximum value to hospitals, their resident providers, and (most importantly) patients.

Implementing these practices can transform a hospital’s supply chain from a cost center to a strategic asset. The result is a healthcare organization empowered to provide high-quality patient care at a low cost, efficient, and resilient rate. The best part about HSCM is that you can centralize all your activities with the help of a trusted partner.

Valify is a tech-enabled purchased services group purchasing organization that can partner with your hospital or healthcare organization. With data-driven market intelligence and $8 billion in purchasing volume, Valify generates savings on purchased services like no other purchasing organization. And our solutions are just right for each of our partners. Unlike other GPOs, Valify doesn’t require members to commit to a predefined spending threshold or many contracts.

The secret to Valify’s success is in our industry-leading data categorization technology. We compare a health system’s spending data against our contract portfolio to find actionable savings opportunities.

To learn more about our purchasing services and how they can simplify your hospital procurement and supply chain management, contact Valify today.

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