two people rushing through a hospital hallway
Hospital Logistics has been neglected for many years, and there is a great potential for future optimization.
Insight

Great potential for future optimization in Hospital Logistics

Hospital Logistics has largely been neglected for several years, and this could affect efficiency and costs in the health sector adversely. But with billions being invested in new hospitals there is a great potential for opportunities and future optimization within this field.

Billions are being invested in new hospitals worldwide, and this represents a great opportunity for addressing old existing problems in the hospital sector. One such issue is Hospital Logistics.

Generally speaking, Hospital Logistics - or broader Supply Chain for Hospitals - is an area that has largely been neglected for many years. Therefore the potential for future optimization is all the greater.

Designing “Hospital Logistics of the future”

Hospital Logistics has in many cases not been given the necessary attention, and has not even been labeled “logisitics” at management level. Consequently Hospital Logistics has been reduced to being handled in a practical manner in the basements and tunnels of the hospital.

This has resulted in an unclear organization of logistics, diffuse roles and responsibilities, non-optimal work flows, lack of efficient IT support, etc.

This could potentially affect the costs and efficiency of the hospitals adversely, and consequently also the health sector at large.

Therefore it is essential to highlight some important areas linked to Hospital Logistics – areas that must be taken into account when designing “Hospital Logistics of the future”.

Hospital Logistics - or broader Supply Chain for Hospitals - is an area that has largely been neglected for many years.

Claus Fabricius

Badly organized and non-coordinated

Today, a typical hospital has to deal with several non-coordinated supply chains, which are supported by different IT-systems that are non-aligned.

Consequently, supply chains on goods flows such as consumer items, medicine, food, uniforms etc., are not linked together. This means that the hospitals are not benefitting from the synergies between the separate chains.

Optimization of space and equipment utilization rarely takes place, and it is not well-defined who is responsible for taking care of these issues.

With billions of USD and Euros being invested in the hospital sector worldwide, there is by all accounts a huge potential for using logistics for future optimization within the hospital sector.

Effective “Hospital Logistics”

Effective “Hospital Logistics” can be utilized to uncover and exploit the challenges and the potential hidden in non-effective supply chains, in particular within areas such as:

  • Automation: Automation of goods supply and internal logistics at the hospitals. Next to e.g. lifts, pneumatic tube systems, use of AGV´s/AMR´s (robot for transporting wagons) there is a trend now, business case vice, also to consider the use of automated storage and retrieval systems for goods, instruments and beds, covering several floors and by that acting as a hospital storage. Next to that robots for unit dose production and picking, vacuum waste and soiled linen collection systems, are included in the plans for future hospitals just to mention some.

  • Centralization: Centralizing can be carried out in different contexts, and it could be beneficial regarding central regional warehouses, CSSD´s (central sterile services department ), pharmacy production and laboratories for analysing serving more hospitals. Likewise, it is possible to create potential synergies in investment costs and operational costs combined with other benefits such as e.g. hygiene, and standardized processes.

  • Transportation: There is a potential for improvement regarding planning, managing and coordination of goods supply, blood samples etc. This is applicable both within the hospital and towards the regional central supply units, suppliers and pre hospital units such as healthcare centers, doctors etc. Implementation of standardized cargoes/wagons for consumables, linen, sterilized reusable goods, etc., will facilitate this.

  • Organization: In future healthcare there will be made clearer distinctions between care and logistics. Goods logistics will be left to skilled persons within the supply chain/service organization, whereas the health professional can concentrate on personal care for the patients. To this end, it will be necessary to make clear definition of the organization, roles and responsibility.

  • IT: Increased emphasis on the IT support for the supply chain from ordering to bedside scanning. Complete traceability will be demanded in the future. There will be a demand to cover all activities and events within the supply chain that are linked to patient activities. This includes which persons, instruments, equipment and medicine were being employed at a particular time and place. This requires standardization of ID coding/numbering, marking for identification and automated data capture whether based on QR, barcodes, data matrix or RFID.

With billions of USD and Euros being invested in the hospital sector worldwide, there is by all accounts a huge potential for using logistics for future optimization within the hospital sector.

Claus Fabricius