Six Logistics Trends in the Healthcare Industry
Many trends in logistics are impacting the healthcare supply chain and healthcare transportation. From the Internet of Things and drone technology to decentralization of supplies and increased supply chain visibility, the healthcare industry is following—as well as leading—some of the most common logistics trends seen across the supply chain.
Trends in Healthcare Transportation
Here are some of the top trends in health care transportation:
Visibility and Logistics SoftwareVisibility and data are main ingredients for a healthy medical supply chain as well as consumer and business-to-business logistics. Hospitals already struggling to meet shifting economic realities are using technology such as logistics management software and sensors to track chain of custody and maintain full visibility so that costly supplies and devices don’t walk off.
Data Driven Logistics and IoTMost discussion of the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare is about mobile technology and wearable devices to monitor patients’ blood pressure, body temperature, sleep and the like. IoT also can have a huge impact on the medical supply chain in addressing healthcare’s cost, waste and redundancy challenges as well as improving communication. Look for more IoT adoption as the healthcare industry readies to comply with regulations such as the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), effective November 2017, requiring strict tracking of designated products in the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain.
Drone Delivery of Medical SuppliesJohns Hopkins Medicine researchers have figured out how to keep blood, medications and vaccines at a consistent safe temperature during flight as the use of aerial drones is considered to transport life-or-death medical supplies between hospitals. The plan to ferry medical supplies between the Baltimore-area hospital’s main campus and center three miles away still needs approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, which recently issued regulations about where and when drones can fly in controlled airspace. Other applications for drone delivery of medical supplies, vaccines and blood products have been tested in other U.S. cities and more remote locations such as Rwanda, Malawi and Dominican Republic.
Service for EveryoneJust like retailers and supply chain managers in other industries are finding new ways to serve each individual customer or client, the healthcare industry is adapting to a “service for everyone” model. This means designing a system that serves each department in the organization where their needs are rather than one-size-fits-all. This could mean separating service for medical records, radiology and pharmacy from the near-immediate and after-hours demands of the lab or blood bank.
Third Party Distribution CompaniesCentralization of the medical supply chain has increased in recent years with consolidation of healthcare facilities into regional healthcare systems encompassing hospitals, health clinics and diagnostic centers. However, growing hospital systems are stretching health care supply chains. Health systems are adapting by creating satellite warehouses as well as moving from self-distribution to third party distribution companies to manage their logistics.
Rise of the Gig EconomyUber and Lyft are a new mainstay in the gig economy and are challenging everything from the standard cab service to the hotel valet to, more recently, the local courier. Likewise, Uber and Lyft are entering the non-emergency healthcare transportation service industry, getting patients to and from their healthcare appointments.
QCS Logistics’ technology-driven medical courier service helps to connect networks of healthcare facilities, streamlines service requests between pharmacies, labs and clinics, and ensures professional and reliable delivery of medical specimens, pharmaceuticals and supplies. With more than 30 years serving the medical community, QCS is one of southeastern Louisiana’s premier providers of medical delivery services and appreciates its role providing logistics services that can directly impact the level of care that medical staff deliver and patients require.