For all the attention that digital technologies receive in clinical and business applications, one area of health care operations often goes overlooked — the supply chain. The data-rich supply chain can help provider organizations tackle major challenges, including reducing variation through insights into which products work best for which patients.
Karen Conway, vice president of health care value at Global Healthcare Exchange, noted recently in HealthData Management that various technologies will help supply chain leaders in their organizational mission to facilitate better care at lower costs. Here are a few of her observations:
- Artificial intelligence: The supply chain could provide data to AI systems to help predict potential shortages or back orders and ensure the availability of products where they are needed, while preventing overstocking areas where products are at risk of expiring before usage.
- Internet of things: We may see sensors installed on implanted medical devices to provide advance warnings if a device is at risk of failure.
- 3D printing: This technology may allow hospitals and health systems to manufacture some products themselves, changing the nature of the supply chain and what products are delivered to whom.