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Hospitals deploy business intelligence to enhance efficiencies across supply chain operations

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Friday, December 23, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Recognising supply chain's vital role in healthcare, hospitals have started adopting business intelligence software to gather functional insights and improve efficiency across the business. Advancements in analytics via use of big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), along with the advent of social media, have further significantly enhanced the pace of this activity. Deep analytics helps identify gaps in information from multi-source data sets to bring in coherency and improve efficiencies.
AI and ML are increasingly automating transactional tasks and freeing up supply chain management professionals’ time for strategic purposes, said Sojwal Vora, chief supply chain officer, Manipal Hospitals.
With a long-term intent of making supply chains sustainable, there is also a carbon neutrality focus at hospitals and OEM suppliers, through digitalization initiatives and implementation of green energy sources, he added.

Technology is also playing a major role in aiding supply chains be more effective. Cloud adoption is increasing, creating an optimal balance with the traditional on-premise IT infrastructure. Process-based ways of working with well-designed software handshakes between the backend ERP and the front-end hospital information system, is helping limit person-dependent interventions to the minimum. Customized and centralized network tools are interconnecting all network hospitals into one large single web, thus providing a seamless experience to patients, clinicians & administrators alike. Optimized computing environments with purpose-built add-on systems address data integration better across the entire supply chain, Vora told Pharmabiz.

Such streamlined digital networks across the healthcare infrastructure can help manage large volumes of procurement with efficiency. Hub and spoke models can be created to facilitate quicker material availability and optimize inventory. Supply chain disruptions can be offset through enabling tools like RPA (Robotic Process Automation) across the Order Realisation process, and by having a strong distributor consolidation strategy leveraging the national presence of new age aggregators. Having an integrated Procure-to-Pay process that ably supports business deliverables is increasingly becoming relevant, said Vora.

Lately, geopolitical tensions and other global events too have had an impact on supply chains across the world. There have been disruptions in logistics and supplies, as raw material movements were constrained leading to finished goods shortages. The ongoing semiconductor availability crisis is not showing any signs of immediate recovery and supply lead times continue to be stretched, he pointed out.
This is leading to a double jolt, where both OEMs and hospitals are required to plan for material well beyond normative windows, despite the demand still not having stabilized post-Covid. Besides, extreme foreign exchange volatility is making hedging less effective, putting additional pressure on the healthcare businesses, noted Vora.
The future of healthcare supply chain looks robust though, amidst shifting demand patterns following the Covid-19 pandemic, across the unorganized and organized sector. The increased momentum in supplier consolidation is likely to continue, as hospitals start leveraging economies of scale. Formulary optimization will become more pronounced, as standardization becomes a necessity. Improvements in internal governance with uniformity in policies, procedures and ways of working will become a norm. All these will help drive long term stability and compliance within Healthcare supply chains, stated Vora.


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