If the Coronavirus pandemic of the past couple of years has proven anything is that healthcare logistics is of the utmost importance. Medical logistics is the process of managing healthcare products through the supply chain.
The healthcare industry has seen a boom in medical product and service sales, leading to increased demand for healthcare logistic services. This trend has been observed globally, with healthcare logistics providers reporting an increase in demand for healthcare services and a decrease in available healthcare supply chain capacity. Healthcare logistics is an important healthcare function, and healthcare providers need to be aware of the many available options in healthcare logistic services.
In this article, we will be looking at the basics of healthcare logistics as well as what are some of the concerns that come with the industry.
What is Healthcare Logistics?
Healthcare (medical) logistics is the specialized field of healthcare supply chain management that deals specifically with the healthcare industry. It encompasses medical transportation, patient flow optimization, inventory control and distribution, including warehousing, healthcare technology services such as remote monitoring equipment for patients in long-term care facilities or at home.
A healthcare company’s logistical needs are unique and differ based on the company’s product and services, customer base, healthcare reimbursement models. A healthcare logistics enterprise such as a warehouse or an ambulance service will have different needs than a hospital that provides clinical care at multiple locations in the community.
The healthcare logistics industry is growing and evolving to meet the needs of healthcare providers. Now, more than ever, healthcare companies are competing against one another for patients looking for treatment options in a time where there is tremendous pressure on healthcare budgets.
Healthcare Logistics By the Numbers
In a Cardinal Health 2019 survey, clinicians said that they’re spending twice as much on supply chain-related tasks than they can afford. As a result, they end up spending less time with patients. Additionally, twenty percent of clinicians say that supply chain tasks stress them out.
It is a common problem for clinicians to have many non-value-added supply chain tasks. This contributes significantly to the high turnover rate and low staff satisfaction. Many doctors and nurses feel that they cannot do anything to solve these problems, which puts additional strain on job satisfaction.
Over two-thirds of the survey responders, who were both clinicians and hospital supply chain decision-makers, have recognized the existence of staff frustration as a result of supply-related issues.
In addition, around 94% of those surveyed have said that there is a strong correlation between their supply chain and logistics management and their financial success.They are looking towards suppliers and distributors to play an increasingly more significant role in ensuring seamless operational performance. Of all the survey responders, some 88% have said that this is either “very” or “somewhat” important for distributors to have this capacity. Of those working in the healthcare supply chain, 71% have described this as “very” important.
The Importance and Benefits of Medical Logistics
It should go without saying that there are several benefits of healthcare logistics that go beyond just traditional logistics services. For starters, there are specialized services that go into healthcare logistics. Some of these services are medical supply chain services, warehousing, distribution, wholesale distribution, transportation management (which includes transporting medical goods from manufacturer to a healthcare provider), and healthcare supply management services. These are some of the specialized healthcare logistics service providers that go beyond traditional shipping needs.
Healthcare logistics is a broad term with many different aspects, but medical supply chain services represent one aspect of healthcare logistics–the movement of goods from manufacturers to healthcare providers. This is an important aspect because it helps reduce potential inefficiencies due to inaccurate or unavailable inventory, overcrowding at healthcare facilities (which can result in higher costs for both patients and hospitals), as well as ensuring appropriate use of expensive medications while reducing waste issues related to unused drugs.
Medical supply chains have been an essential part of healthcare as we know it today since medical supplies have seen an increase in demand. For healthcare providers, the supply chain is a vital component of their operations. Given the urgency of healthcare and healthcare logistics, healthcare providers can’t afford to be without the services of a medical supply chain.
There are three main service categories in healthcare: inbound, outbound, and transit or global distribution centers (warehouses that store inventory for other warehouses). These different types provide more detailed product handling solutions tailored to specific needs.
The healthcare logistics team has a lot of responsibility and is composed in varying capacities depending on the healthcare organization.
The healthcare logistics team’s primary responsibilities are to ensure that products are delivered promptly, efficiently, and economically; while maintaining inventory levels across all warehouses at optimum efficiency. They must also assure storage conditions for medical supplies that meet industry standards, as well as provide each shipper with the most accurate data available on healthcare products.
Medical logistics has evolved over time from only transportation to now more comprehensive services like warehouse management and claims processing. Medical transportation service suppliers also provide medical logistics with specialized healthcare product fulfillment services such as temperature-controlled shipping for sensitive materials such as vaccines or biohazardous waste disposal, among other such services.
Other specialized healthcare logistics services also include things such as new machine installations, critical parts solutions, white-glove services, inside deliveries, and more.
Current Healthcare Logistical Concerns
The medical supply chain industry has been evolving rapidly due to healthcare product demand and availability. Healthcare facilities have seen a significant increase in sales with no corresponding increase in capacity. At the same time, healthcare prices have been rising, and supply chain costs are increasing exponentially. These healthcare logistical concerns have created a need for healthcare logistics providers and medical supply chain services.
Medical companies that require healthcare logistics services should first identify the type of medical product they will be shipping, how much is needed to ship, where it needs to go when it will arrive or depart from its destination point.
The company also needs to consider what kind of storage space is available at their warehouse and any other custom requirements such as temperature control if necessary. With these specific details identified and communicated with the healthcare logistics provider, an appropriate plan can then be made for successful delivery on time without delays or errors, which may result in damaged products or excessive waste due to spoilage.
There are also issues related to the healthcare logistics provider’s warehouse capacity, which is dependent on the healthcare company’s needs.
Healthcare companies should also consider any potential security risks in their supply chain and how they will be able to mitigate them if a disaster occurs.
In the aforementioned Cardinal Health survey, common healthcare logistics concerns include the following:
- Manual Tasks – Almost half of the frontline providers (49%) have said that they have to manually count and track supplies. Likewise, 46% also say that this process has a “very” or “somewhat” adverse effect on workplace productivity.
- Missing Supplies – Around 74% of frontline providers also say that constantly looking for supplies that should be available at hand but aren’t has the most negative impact on workplace productivity. Around 84% of department managers say the same.
Healthcare Logistics Providers
Medical supply chain services are healthcare logistics that connect medical suppliers to healthcare providers. Medical logistics companies handle transportation of goods, distribution, and warehousing for healthcare products or raw materials, fulfillment of orders, tracking inventory levels, temperature-controlled shipping, and other specialized healthcare product requirements like hazardous material disposal.
There are many different types of medical logistics, from small to large healthcare suppliers. Your healthcare supplier should provide you with the kind of service and medical logistics that you need for your business needs.
Medical logistics and healthcare providers are a critical element of the healthcare industry. Healthcare suppliers may supply medical products to hospitals, health clinics, pharmacies, or other healthcare facilities. Logistics companies help connect these suppliers with healthcare providers by handling transportation services like freight forwarding, distribution, and warehousing for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, fulfilling orders, tracking inventory, and managing healthcare supply chains.
The healthcare logistics industry is growing rapidly, which means that healthcare providers in the United States will need to hire more workers to handle their needs for distribution and warehousing.
Healthcare Logistics fills this demand for specialized services by providing healthcare providers access to third-party companies that can help them meet all their logistical tasks.One such company is Redbird Logistics. We provide healthcare providers with healthcare logistics services, such as warehousing and distribution. As a professional third-party logistics provider (3PL), we understand the unique needs and supply chain challenges of the healthcare industry. Redbird Logistics Services is well prepared to cover all logistical needs such as machine installation, inside deliveries, white-glove services, and more. Our real-time tracking technology will also provide you with the exact location of your equipment and supplies while in transit, allowing you to know the status of your shipment from pickup to final delivery. Contact us today for more information!