Healthcare logistics: the operation that saves lives

Healthcare logistics: the operation that saves lives

Society is constantly evolving and that is nothing new. However, there are changes that transcend much more than others given their relevance and impact on the population. One of these changes that has transformed and even saved lives in the future in recent years is healthcare logistics.

What is healthcare logistics?

Health logistics is the set of logistical and management procedures that provide the necessary health facilities in order to provide the population with health care.

Healthcare logistics encompasses numerous activities and services within the healthcare sector, such as the management and distribution of vaccines, visits by medical teams, patient transport, emergency services, drug distribution, management of biological samples and much more.

The health metamorphosis

As in any other field or sector, healthcare has undergone many changes over the years.

Trends such as home hospitalization, born in the late 80s, is now a preferred option in more and more cases: it is currently consolidating itself as a way of practicing medicine that improves in many aspects, since patients feel more comfortable at home, it is easier to follow up on treatments and, ultimately, satisfaction is greater on both sides.

This is just one example of the resilience of healthcare in general terms. Despite suffering major economic and even health crises such as Covid-19, it manages to persist and adapt to changes, including the digitalization of its logistics.

The digital transformation in healthcare logistics

If there is one field in which digitalization has been key to the development and proper functioning of processes, it is that of the healthcare sector.

The recent inclusion of digital mechanisms in healthcare logistics not only helps but also enables the efficient carrying out of processes in the health sector. Proof of this is, for example, the management of patient transport, since thanks to the implementation of specific computer systems, it is possible to optimize health planning and make it more efficient.

Therefore, the digitalization of healthcare logistics is evident: a sector that implements technologies rapidly. This is due, in part, to the scarcity of public economic resources, which has led the health sector to search for effective and rapidly implemented alternatives that can fill the “technological hole” due to the lack of such economic resources. All of this leads to the lack of efficient tools and, therefore, to the search for alternatives outside the borders of their own sectors that help with the demand for health needs.

Some of the most common problems in healthcare logistics

Logistics management in the healthcare sector is one of the most challenging processes due to the large number of factors involved, in addition to the enormous social responsibility that it entails. Therefore, identifying the most common problems faced by this type of logistics is a key factor in determining possible effective solutions.

Use the technique of 5-Why Originally from Toyota, from the creators of the entire Lean methodology, it is a good way to identify those problems and their causes.

For example, the one that is probably the biggest and most widespread of your problems: obsolescence.

Digitalization is here to stay and that affects any sector, including healthcare. It is not necessary to delve into the innumerable advantages provided by technology in any of its aspects, but it is necessary to highlight all the problems currently faced by all those companies, sectors or even processes that are not digitized.

Not making use of digital tools such as specialized software leads to much slower processes, since they are carried out manually and not in an automated way. There is also a greater risk that unpredictable human errors may occur, the difficulty of maintaining a consistent process over time, or simply the risk that no one else knows how to do certain tasks.

The problem of obsolescence not only has an impact on slow and archaic processes, but also on consequences derived from it. An example of this is the case of a home care service: when carrying out daily planning manually, they are forced to invest a lot of time in the organization; in addition, the result of such manual planning will inevitably be inefficient, since it will be impossible to calculate distances and time intervals precisely. Wasting time on very scarce health resources, such as a doctor or a nurse, to name just a few examples. This is one of the big mistakes of last-mile management: an obsolete planning strategy.

Another very common derivative problem in correspondence with healthcare logistics is, precisely, the lack of traceability. Without mechanisms to ensure the necessary monitoring of our operations and to know the updates of the estimated arrival times, it will be very difficult to manage possible day-to-day unforeseen events and we will have to improvise, which ultimately generates inefficiencies, overdemand on healthcare equipment and an impact on the quality of care and the service provided.

Tools for the logistical planning of health routes: what you should keep in mind

As mentioned before, healthcare logistics has become very important in recent years, especially considering the current health crisis caused by Covid-19 and the difficulty with planning many processes in the face of an unexpected peak in demand. Therefore, having planning tools to meet each of the medical needs of each of the health activities is vital to obtain a better service at a lower cost.

Next, we'll guide you through the 5 key elements you should consider for the logistical planning of health routes:

· Route planning and optimization: Having a route planning service will ensure the correct management of operations taking into account parameters such as mileage or travel time. With the right software, this will be an autonomous task, in which you will not have to invest time and with an optimal result, since it will always offer the most efficient route.

· Proactive monitoring: Monitoring the operations in real time will be very useful for you to be able to face changes or possible setbacks that arise.

· Communication: Transparency and direct communication with users is essential for their satisfaction with our service.

· Flexibility: It is necessary to have a tool that has sufficient flexibility to be able to make changes throughout the operating process, such as being able to modify delivery times according to the urgency or to transfer a service from one driver to another, among others.

· Easy implementation: Prioritize tools that are easy and quick to implement, which in a matter of a few hours you can use at 100%, without having to invest too much time in explanations or meetings. Choosing complex tools makes it harder for people who have to use it on a daily basis to be more difficult to adopt and tend to keep doing things as usual.

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