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Health systems looking to control costs while strengthening patient care often struggle to bring lasting change to hospital supply chains with complex requirements. When it comes to automated, point-of-use inventory management systems, there are several myths that often delay adoption for many organizations. However, these powerful solutions can revolutionize how inventory is managed, from seamless supply documentation and UDI capture to reductions in wasted time and effort.

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Exploratory data analysis for ORs is the first step – or the ‘scrubbing in’ – towards perioperative analytics for the supply chain.

The vast swathes of data being collected in modern health systems suggest that perioperative analytics (or OR analytics) are at the ready. The truth is that extracting meaningful information from all those data points takes some coordination and a little exploration. Let’s take a look at the exploratory data analysis that underscores analytics, and the different ‘flavors’ of perioperative analytics, from descriptive and diagnostic to predictive and prescriptive.

Imagine yourself in a situation where you are faced with the distress of having to undergo surgery to address an ailment. As a patient, what would be your top-of-mind concerns? You would think about how risky the operation is. How long the recovery will take. Which physician is going to perform the procedure. What the physician’s reputation is. And ultimately, what are your chances of healing from the underlying medical issue you’re getting the surgery for in the first place. That all makes sense. You are one patient facing one concern: your health and wellbeing.


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last mile logistics are key considerations in building smart citiesOn October 16 2018 I had the good fortune to represent TECSYS on a panel session “Smart cities and the last 50 feet” at the 2018 MHI annual conference. The panel was an hour of discussion around the topic of changes in last mile logistics technologies and how they will impact industry over the coming five years and I have to say it was a lot of fun and really educational. On the panel was Kevin Condon at Kroger, Alan Amling at UPS, John Ellis at Ellis & Associates and me with the session well moderated by Scott Sopher, Principal at Deloitte.
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Demand planning for inventory management optimization
Although no business likes carrying safety stock, experiencing a stockout simply isn’t worth the risk to customer satisfaction. Take an industry-informed look at how to achieve demand planning ‘greatness’ when it comes to optimizing your inventory levels and still meeting customer requirements.

 

“No one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe.”

 

This quote is attributed to Harry J. Gray, an iconic business manager and philanthropist who, through acquisition, assembled one of America’s largest manufacturing corporations. During his career, he received numerous recognitions and honors and was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame. My guess is that Mr. Gray was an expert at risk assessment and containment.

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women optimizing warehouse picking
At its essence, efficient warehouse picking is about fulfilling customer orders via your warehouse management system (WMS) with the least amount of material handling and labor output. It’s an important task to optimize as more than 50 percent of a DC’s labor force is typically involved in picking.

Many organizations today overlook easy ways to make warehouse picking more efficient and less costly. Below you’ll find four ways to tackle this problem followed by an in-depth look at various picking methods and associated technologies.

 

Learn more about this related supply chain topic: The Future of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) Must Support Complex Warehouse Requirements for a New Era of Buyers


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Returns-Management-Can-Be-ManageableAsk anyone in your warehouse how well they like to handle returns, and you’ll likely hear a sigh or groan in response. That’s because the returns management process, with its time and space requirements and excess inventory management, is a sizeable hassle for most distributors. Returns are not a tidy process to manage the way regular inbound and outbound activities are. Sometimes items are broken or in a box with other unrelated SKUs. Sometimes they’re out of stock or no longer sold, meaning there may be a subsequent return to a vendor. There’s also extra processing required to determine what to do with unusable products, like dispose of it or request a vendor return material authorization (RMA). The list goes on. The only thing predictable about returns is that they’re unpredictable. That said, there are ways to make life easier on the returns front. But first, let’s look at how this return management process typically works.

 

Discover other ways to trim expenses in your warehouse with this valuable guide:
5 Ways to Start Cutting Supply Chain Costs


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Male healthcare professional interacting with supply chain management software

 

Over the past 10 years, I’ve been working closely with leading healthcare organizations as they strive to improve their supply chain operations. So, I was intrigued to see a new AHRMM18 track this year focused on “Clinically Integrated Supply Chain” (or CISC).

 

During the event, supply chain directors, clinicians, and CEOs all addressed this enormous—and enormously important—subject and pushed the dialog forward from a multitude of different perspectives.

 

And therein lies the intrigue.

 

When addressing supply chain integration, we are inherently talking about connecting the traditionally disconnected, and it becomes a complicated—and often messy—state of affairs.


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Female healthcare professional posing for picture in clinicTransformation is a disruptive undertaking, but the risks and opportunities within the IDN Supply Chain warrant a closer look into a health system’s nextgen supply chain readiness.

 

Over the past few decades, a perfect storm has been brewing in healthcare. As M&A activity continues, consolidated healthcare systems are serving larger communities, managing bigger spends, and coordinating more complex business operations. It’s more essential than ever to render efficient health services while maintaining—or improving—patient outcomes.

 

One part of this ongoing complexity is exponential growth in the number of SKUs hospitals must manage. In fact, the number of individual supply items has mushroomed from a few thousand to upwards of 60,000—and that number grows every day.

 

The problem is that physical hospital space was never set up to handle this volume of product. In addition, clinicians do not typically receive training or education in supply chain best practice, and the negative ramifications on clinician efficiency, patient care, and cost control are becoming increasingly evident.


Determine your organizations’ readiness for supply chain transformation with the IDN Supply Chain Readiness tool.


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Hand stacking wooden blocks labeled with Clinical Supply Chain related images

It’s an interesting time in the healthcare industry, and for the supply chain specifically. Each of the following market factors is thrusting the supply chain to center stage and calling on all of us to up our game in the face of more complex operations. These factors include:

 

  • The advancement of new technology, from drones and robots to artificial intelligence and distributed ledgers
  • Increasing margin pressure
  • New and changing traceability regulations
  • Numerous mergers and acquisitions


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Effective inventory management is always a delicate dance between the cost associated with carrying too much inventory and the risk of not carrying enough to fulfill a customer order at the right moment. With ongoing pressure to ship orders within compressed timeframes, there’s no room for error, and competitors are always on your heels. It’s critical to unearth new ways to generate savings and efficiency at every turn. Cross-docking often leads the opportunity list with its ability to minimize material handling costs and get inbound products prepped for shipment at lightning speed.

 

Forklift cross-docking as it carries pallets of stock from warehouse into delivery truck

 

Although the practice of cross-docking has been around for quite a while, many organizations shy away from implementing it because they think it’s more work than it actually is. In doing this, they forfeit cost and efficiency benefits that can help them better meet customer demands, particularly for specialty items.


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