Linking the Supply Chain for Remote Healthcare Delivery
By Maeghan Innes, MASc Eng., PMP
Supply chain has been top of mind recently, with roadblocks and delays revealing the true complexity behind much of today’s delivered-to-your-doorstep economy. Perhaps the most complex and critical element of this logistical network is the healthcare supply chain; a system quickly evolving to support the hybrid models of care needed to effectively serve our populations.
The Healthcare Supply Chain
Even before COVID-19, we saw the impact that supply chain issues had on care delivery as a whole. The pandemic only compounded these existing challenges; leaving the industry grappling with how to compensate for the enormous supply demands of COVID-19, while maintaining their obligation to routine healthcare outputs.
Tackling this issue has not only been a challenge, but has compelled us to re-evaluate the way we deliver care overall. Now, the biggest players in healthcare delivery are no longer asking ‘how can we maintain the status quo’? Instead, they’re aiming to re-design the healthcare supply chain in a way that anticipates the future and allows for sites of care to exist anywhere – whether in-community, at home, or elsewhere.
A Hospital in Every Home
According to a recent survey by Sage Growth Partners, virtual and remote care is now ranked as the highest supply chain priority amongst healthcare executives in response to ongoing supply chain challenges. Second to this is the priority of advancing supply chain analytics using AI algorithms and other innovations that can forecast and effectively respond to disruptions.
Moving towards value-based remote care requires a system designed to serve multiple sites of care. This model, sometimes called “hospital at home”, is accomplished by delivering technology to patients that enables connectivity with clinicians from a distance. For the millions of patients whose conditions make them eligible for this delivery model, their home becomes the site of care.
This, like building a new road, reduces traffic to other sites of care, like brick-and-mortar clinics and hospitals. These sites are, and primarily should be, reserved for care that necessitates in-person and urgent intervention. With emergency and clinical care sites already stretched thin, any relief on their resources can increase their ability to provide timely and effective care.
What’s more, if we eliminate congestion at these sites of care, and open avenues for new sites to be created, we can not only respond to our population health issues, but we can also improve them.
Rerouting for Remote Care
To support such a hybrid system of remote and in-person care delivery, health systems are finding ways to bridge their activities with the entire supply chain, from manufacturing and logistics to patient engagement and support. This is a challenge in itself, with remote care provision bringing an array of technological and logistical requirements that health organizations are simply not designed to manage.
To provide these missing links, healthcare providers partner with care logistics and technology experts, so they can retain their focus on care while effectively connecting patients to remote health resources. As these partnerships expand, healthcare providers are becoming increasingly effective at adapting their supply chains to enable wide-scale remote care deployment.
Logistics and technology providers who remain device and vendor agnostic are further expanding these new pathways, remaining agile and adaptable to account for nearly any device or vendor. This in turns enables faster, larger scalability for remote care programs.
Linking the Chain
With telehealth visits and remote care services expanding rapidly in demand and coverage, providers need reliable, consistent solutions to maintain the strength of this supply chain. Innovative partnerships are forging a supply chain that can support an adaptable system of care; one that efficiently treats patients at a distance in addition to clinical settings.
Achieving mainstream scale of remote care would have transformative effects on the healthcare delivery system as a whole, and would reduce strain on our already stressed care delivery supply chain.
Find out more about how Medioh is making remote care a scalable reality.