The healthcare industry faces extreme pressure to improve customer service, material handling, and inventory management while also increasing cost savings. Healthcare companies need to look for opportunities to reduce costs without decreasing the quality of patient care and clinical operations due to declining reimbursements.
The prime targets for cost-cutting measures are medical devices. For instance, many healthcare providers are asking device manufacturers to reduce their prices. Medical product and device manufacturers need to meet these demands if they want to maintain business with hospitals or other healthcare providers.
Third-party logistics providers can help healthcare companies meet these challenges and demands. Partnering with 3PLs is the key to minimizing healthcare costs without sacrificing the quality of care.
As healthcare has become more complex and the medical industry continues to grow, healthcare logistics providers have been needed to fill in the gaps. Healthcare 3PLs are specialized logistics companies that focus on healthcare services for hospitals, healthcare systems, physician practices, and other healthcare-related organizations.
These companies provide logistics and supply chain support, including fulfillment, distribution, warehousing, and inventory management. They can also offer transportation management for patient care supplies like pharmaceuticals and medical devices, among other such services.
This article discusses the need for specialized healthcare logistics providers and the specific services they provide to those in the healthcare and medical industries.
The Complexity of The Healthcare Supply Chain
The healthcare industry has its supply chain management challenges because of the different interests stakeholders have. Hospitals and healthcare providers may want to use items they’re trained with, while executives might want the most affordable and quality products for their employees.
A fragmented and inefficient supply chain management process is an inevitable outcome when a business’s supply chain goals are not aligned.
Doctors and clinicians want to have needed products on hand at any given time. With off-contract spending and product variance, it’s understandable why they chose to manage or hoard supplies.
The healthcare logistics of a company go unnoticed when people look only at their finances, but by considering the amount of time that employees spend on fulfilling supply orders or waiting for deliveries, an organization can calculate this hidden cost.
What Are Healthcare Logistics Providers?
Healthcare logistics providers are an essential link in the healthcare supply chain. They provide a range of services, including managing inventory, handling warehousing and delivery issues for clients that distribute medical supplies nationwide. The healthcare logistics industry is rapidly growing to meet the demands of healthcare facilities all around the country.
Healthcare Logistics Providers work to help healthcare facilities make the most out of their budget and resources by providing additional services for them.
They have a wide range of healthcare logistics services available to healthcare facilities. Some examples include:
- Provides warehousing and distribution for healthcare supplies on site or offsite
- Manages inventory levels, including supply replenishment
- Handles transportation needs such as freight forwarding, customs clearance, and border crossings
- Delivers medical and pharmaceutical products directly to and from healthcare facilities
- Handles the financial aspects of healthcare logistics, including billing and reimbursement
- Provides planning services for healthcare facility projects to ensure timely execution
Some healthcare logistics service providers also provide more specialized services such as new machine installations, inside deliveries, critical parts solutions, white-glove services, and real-time tracking technology.
How Logistics Companies Can Help Healthcare Organizations
As healthcare continues to grow and change in the United States and worldwide, so do its logistical needs. Healthcare planners must be mindful of these changes and look to healthcare logistics service providers for the services their organizations need. Below are some of the benefits provided by specialized 3PLs to healthcare organizations:
As medical devices have become more complex and specialized, new levels of efficiency are necessary to satisfy the ever-changing needs of hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
The warehousing of these items has been fraught with inefficiency and waste. Each manufacturer builds its warehouses and supply chain infrastructure that usually has excess capacity right from the start.
Warehouses may only be 60-70% full at any given time, but they still have to maintain their expensive infrastructure for that entire time. Some product manufacturers may even have multiple warehouses located in close proximity to each other, all of which operating at partial capacity.
By making use of the services of a 3PL, healthcare businesses can make use of their warehousing solutions to consolidate their own needs. They can combine inventory from several manufacturers in a shared healthcare warehousing facility. This can help healthcare companies to save on warehousing and storage costs.
Third-party logistics companies that specialize in the healthcare industry reduce overhead costs through shared facilities and product storage. Regulations frequently change, which creates opportunities for the integration of multiple SMBs through such shared warehousing spaces.
One thing healthcare providers are acutely aware of is the need for specialized technology to provide healthcare logistics. Medical suppliers rely on bar code scanners, RFID and biometric devices, Automatic Identification Technologies (AIT), warehouse management software, and more to keep track of inventory levels. These solutions help healthcare companies reduce costs as well as avoid lost inventory. They also help healthcare companies to better comply with various healthcare regulations and standards.
Medical suppliers need a lot of specialized equipment in order to get their patients what they need when they need it. This equipment ranges from medical devices that are used for treating chronic illnesses to healthcare supplies like catheters and medications.
Healthcare and medical organizations are able to access the technological tools needed for streamlining their supply chain when they hire a reliable 3PL. Specialized 3PLs are equipped to share their services with multiple customers, which allows them to streamline maintenance and invest upfront.
Among the common digital tools and technologies that 3PLs can provide to their clients can include real-time tracking, reporting, data analysis, freight audit and payment solutions, route optimization and consolidation, warehouse management systems (WMS), and transportation management systems (TMS), among others.
As hospitals and medical providers often need to keep large stocks of specialized products on hand for patient needs, they must provide a consistently high fill rate. To the highest possible degree of inventory availability, 3PLs can help by providing full visibility and tracking on products throughout the supply chain.
Most freight in the healthcare industry is transported through LTL services. This means that, sometimes, trucks are not filled to their total capacity. Logistics companies understand that the most effective way to transport freight is by combining shipments from multiple shippers whose products are heading to the same destination. Further, consolidating freight (compared to the traditional LTL approach) means there are fewer product touches and less risk of potential claims and damage, leading to fewer losses and shortages.
Operational and Industry Expertise
Healthcare logistics providers offer healthcare organizations the operational and industry expertise they need. They provide specialized services to healthcare companies in every phase of their business, from shipping clinical trial supplies and pharmaceuticals all the way through to warehousing medical devices for hospital consumables.
A healthcare logistics specialist knows the best practices for this industry. They know the needs of medical and healthcare providers, as they are specially trained to understand what is needed to get everything done correctly. Third-party logistics providers who focus on healthcare can communicate better with carriers because of their specialized knowledge. The third-party logistics provider’s specialized knowledge of the healthcare industry can improve your logistics.
A logistics company providing specialized healthcare services is necessary to ensure products will be delivered in a timely manner and operate at their maximum potential. A healthcare logistics provider can make the process much easier thanks to a pre-vetted and proven carrier network. Third-party logistics providers can help you find more capacity because they have a qualified network.
A third-party logistics provider that specializes in the healthcare industry often has a diverse carrier base and repeatedly relies on relationships with hundreds or even thousands of drivers. Third-party logistics providers have access to many different types of carriers, saving shippers a considerable amount of time.
A healthcare logistics company is a service provider that specializes in healthcare-related products and services. They can assist with the transportation of medical supplies, equipment, pharmaceuticals, as well as offer both pre-hospital and hospital care logistical support.
When you partner with a third-party logistics company, you have more time and resources to put into your area of specialty – such as providing care or, as a manufacturer, delivering medical devices.
A third-party logistics provider can help you eliminate the need to manage staff, technology, warehouse space, and transportation in order to execute your supply chain management processes. When considering 3PL account management, you need a partner who will handle staffing, auditing, optimizing, and training. A 3PL can take the grueling tasks off your plate that result from dealing with an often-changing healthcare system.
One such 3PL is Redbird Logistics. They provide healthcare providers with specialized logistics services specifically tailored for each shipper’s individual needs. As a professional third-party logistics provider, 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!