The COVID pandemic has exposed the fragility of medical supply chains during the past year. Healthcare systems all over the world have faced protracted shortages of essential medical supplies and medical supply chains have struggled to meet the increased demand for critical equipment like masks, ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE). But even before COVID, many of these same supply chains were already dealing with other logistical challenges.
What can healthcare systems and medical organizations do to meet these demand surges in times of crisis? How can healthcare providers become more reliable and competitive? What technologies are necessary to optimize your healthcare supply chain and make it more resilient and innovative?
CHALLENGES OF MANAGING A HEALTHCARE SUPPLY CHAIN
Before answering any of these questions, it’s useful to understand the 3 most common issues plaguing medical supply distributors and healthcare organizations today.
1. POOR INVENTORY CONTROL
With state-of-the-art devices but old-school software systems that don’t integrate well with each other, hospitals don’t know where they stand in terms of quantity or type of medical supplies required in their operation. Inaccurate inventory data (or no data at all) being provided to the distributors of these supplies can result in stockpiling in one location and shortages in another. Better inventory tracking and streamlined warehouse picking, packing, and releasing processes can prevent delayed supply allocations and ensure all medical sites can send and receive supplies where they’re needed most.
2. MISALLOCATION OF RESOURCES
In case of inventory shortages or other emergencies, manufacturers should be able to quickly repurpose their factories and production facilities in order to produce an adequate supply of whatever medical equipment is facing the highest demand. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Hospitals, distributors and governments fail to communicate and prioritize, leading to misallocation of resources, delayed deliveries and a host of other problems.
In weak supply chains, hospitals tend to become overly dependent on distributors and procurement ends up being put on the back-burner. Integrating all manufacturing facilities, hospitals, and warehouses within the supply chain, combining inventory and procurement, and making use of automation technologies such as RFID and voice picking can all contribute to greater innovation.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR MEDICAL SUPPLY CHAIN MORE EFFICIENT
To make your medical supply chain more efficient, start by taking advantage of data analysis and visualization tools to track the right information. This means tracking the KPIs and metrics most relevant to your specific supply chain, getting your hands on the most detailed, accurate inventory data, and making sure everyone in your organization — from the warehouse staff to the healthcare professionals — has access to this data whenever they need it. This has several positive consequences: it makes everyone more accountable, facilitates decision making and allows you to predict and respond to the inevitable supply chain hiccup — without it becoming anything more than a hiccup.
The second thing you can do is to make sure your WMS integrates easily with your current equipment, databases, warehouses and other critical healthcare systems. One of the most common reasons why healthcare organizations are hesitant to transition to newer systems is the fear that critical patient or inventory data will be lost during the integration, or the new system will not be a good functional fit. While this can be a risk, upgrading to the right WMS software will give you a better understanding of how changes to your supply chain affect your patients and your business. DATASCOPE WMS has experience with medical and healthcare supply chain integrations.
A DATASCOPE WMS CASE STUDY
Juzo USA, a subsidiary of Juzo Germany and one of the leading manufacturers of medical compression stockings and compression garments in the world, began the project of expanding their finished goods warehouse in 2016. Their warehouse at the time was being strained by increasing demand and Juzo needed a suitable WMS solution to help grow their operation. DATASCOPE WMS was a natural choice as Juzo USA was already running on SYSPRO ERP.
After commissioning new racking and conveyors in 2017, and working closely with DATASCOPE Solutions Partner (DSP), BT Partners, DATASCOPE was able to deliver a software solution specifically for Juzo’s business. Focusing on the variety of complex warehouse processes, Juzo has been able to offer product customization options prior to shipping, extremely fast turnaround times on all orders, make-to-measure options, and full control over tracking of standard picking processes. We are now working with Juzo USA to implement DATASCOPE WMS into their raw material and work-in-progress operations.
As a premier provider of custom WMS software and supply chain optimization solutions for the global SYSPRO community, DATASCOPE wants everyone within your organization to feel comfortable customizing the software functionality for your specific business needs. Schedule your software demo today to see the benefits of DATASCOPE WMS firsthand and start optimizing your medical supply chain!