Hospital Fulfillment: Optimizing the Healthcare Supply Chain

Hospital Fulfillment: Optimizing the Healthcare Supply Chain

As Augusten Burroughs writes, “When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.”  Arguably the most important industry in which a supply chain must work perfectly is the medical industry.   A physician or nurse lacking the correct medical device or amount of supplies can have a dire effect on the end product: your health. 

While the healthcare supply chain has always been a critical one, the new landscape that is unfolding for hospitals and providers is creating new obstacles.  With reimbursement based on different metrics, the cost structure of healthcare organizations is changing as well.  A key area that can lower costs while improving care is to optimize the supply chain within these organizations.

Physician Communication

Surprisingly, a large percentage of doctors don’t recognize the cost associated with many supplies.  A 2014 Health Affairs study showed that 36% of physicians rated their recognition of device cost as “poor”.  By leveraging higher involvement with the physicians that utilize and request these materials, substantial savings can be found.   

Data Collection

The use of barcodes and RFID technology is an efficient and effective way to track inventory, recognize trends and maintain a lean supply chain.  With end-to-end automated data collection, lean inventory control creates cost effectiveness and an opportunity for providers to have more control over their assets.


Like most sectors today, cloud technology offers the ability to leverage data in an entirely new way.  The transparency provided by the great amounts of data being collected allows for accurate and timely logistical decisions to be made.

With hospital and healthcare margins becoming slimmer than ever, as well as the uncharted territory of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), creating new efficiencies in existing infrastructures is vital.  This year, operating margins are expected to decline 30% from 2011’s numbers.  A large contributor to this decrease stems from a transition to performance-based reimbursement.  Streamlining the healthcare supply chain creates the opportunity to trim costs and generate savings.  Barrett Distribution Centers, through a focus on technology and supply chain strategy, can develop a customized plan to meet healthcare fulfillment needs.