Healthcare Supply Chains of the Future

For as long as there has been a healthcare industry, at the end/beginning of each year, there has been a process of taking stock and anticipating where it’s heading in the next 12 months. Since 2010, the prominent issue in this process has been the supply chain, following the Affordable Care Act of that year. These issues are still evolving, with the debate focused on increasing process efficiency, reducing costs and improving standards of care.

This year, everyone in the industry should be looking into utilizing data as a resource to improve the supply chain. The trends of the last number of years will continue along the themes of supplier and provider consolidation, moving patient care away from acute care scenarios, reduced levels of reimbursement, implementing and integrating electronic health records as well as other systems of business healthcare.

At the very center of these issues is the need for quality data in order to enable managers to make well informed decisions. The quality of data will be derived from accuracy and help the processes of procurement and sourcing, and the normalization of data in order to provide reports and predictive & insightful analytics.

As healthcare is focused on a cost to serve system to manage costs, the accuracy of data serves as a foundation for gaining insight into the cost of procedures and the relationship to the intended clinical outcome. This system of interoperability utilizes normalized data, which is shared throughout hospital departments and their IT support systems is now beginning to be the rule rather than an exceptional case. The providers of healthcare need to understand how clinical data and data from the supply chain relate.

One of the problems they face arises from the lack of uniformity when it comes to the standardization of data, which impedes the ability to have faster responses to the ever-evolving notion of an idealized state. At the top level, healthcare providers need to be equipped with better information when it comes to the cost of procedures, in order to be better informed about the cost of quality patient care.

As the industry progresses and focuses on these, data can make services more patient-centric and provide quality care. Health care organizations must now explore ways to get technologies, such as sensors and scanners, closer to the point of care in order to capture data in real time, to be compared with existing data with the goal of a better service for patients in mind.

How do you think technology and data standardization will affect the healthcare supply chain in the future? Share your thoughts by commenting on this post, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

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