If Amazon Can Deliver the Goods, So Should Healthcare
By Kapil Asher
Remember in 2001, when e-commerce was in its infancy? “Click-to-Buy” typically meant a follow-up call to ensure that your order went through and then many more calls to determine the status of your order.
Now, when you Click-to-Buy, you’re confident that your order will arrive when expected – or even earlier – thanks in large part to Amazon.
Today, Amazon continues to shake up the e-commerce industry. In 2009, the Amazon introduced same-day delivery of non-perishable items in major metropolitan markets. Recently, along with its acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Amazon announced same-day delivery of fresh produce, meats and even fresh meal kits that consumers have demanded. It’s an impressive feat, considering Amazon has millions of products delivered from thousands of vendors to millions of consumers. The successful implementation of same-day delivery requires the players to employ a cross-functional approach, with deep planning, investment in IT, along with strong ties and good rapport with transportation partners.
Inventory management must be thorough, to a microscopic level, with every SKU accounted for and easily located. The staff must be trained to use the new technology successfully. While the industry and scale is different, there are quite a few interesting similarities to how Amazon deals with delivery and supply chain, and how Accruent Healthcare Solutions approaches hospital operations. While Amazon thrives on reviews by their consumers, great customer satisfaction in a healthcare environment means happy nurses, operational staff and executives because of streamlined operations, greater cost savings, and higher HCAHPS scores.
PUSH BUTTON AUTOMATION
Amazon has solved their potential logistical tangle with the help of lean workflow and automation to minimize errors and improve productivity. Accruent takes a similar approach, but instead of delivering a new Echo or gallon of milk, we’re in the business of helping hospitals cut costs while providing better patient care. This balance is achieved by implementing solutions that ensure that healthcare professionals have the right equipment and supplies, when and where they need them.
Accruent’s solution makes it easy for nurses to order equipment or anything else they need with a click of a button, and track the progress of that order in real time – just like Amazon. The backend software keeps a tight control over the inventory of clean, ready-to-use equipment along with the equipment’s actual location within the hospital. This visibility reduces time and effort required by equipment handlers to deliver a requested item.
Accruent also automates the process of recovering soiled equipment and load balancing inventory levels across the hospital, providing an optimized inventory of ready-to-use equipment. In fact, Amazon doesn’t worry about recovery because they’re only concerned with shipping items. While Amazon does handle returns, the return percentage is very small.
Hospital operations staff are in the business of delivering and retrieving equipment for maintenance and cleaning. Medical devices used by patients must be returned to the central supply for cleaning and turnaround. Our solution’s automated closed-loop workflow keeps equipment and supplies flowing and improves availability and utilization. The outcome is a nursing staff with trust in a system that helps them provide better patient care.
CULTURE OF TRUST WITH NURSING
Creating a culture of trust in the partnership between nursing and equipment services staff is much like the relationship Amazon maintains with its customers and vendors. Our solution creates a workflow that’s easy for all team members to follow and trust. In addition, the solution optimizes staff utilization based on parameters such as availability, proximity and expertise. There is an inherent component of accountability that ensures speedy delivery of equipment and constant replenishment of inventory.
Is it a bit presumptuous to comparing hospitals to a billion-dollar retail juggernaut that perennially ranks #1 in customer satisfaction? Sure. But in a complex logistical environment of multiple players and moving parts, if Amazon can provide same-day delivery of gaming consoles, then equipment services at hospitals can speed up delivery of ready-to-use critical medical devices, so nursing staff can ensure high-quality patient care. We know it. We believe it. We’re doing it.
About the Author
Kapil Asher has been working on successfully integrating sensors in various industrial applications long before the term “Internet of Things” was ubiquitous. Having deep knowledge of cutting edge technologies, Kapil has been able to leverage their use in creating process efficiencies through automation. As Director of IoT Solutions, Kapil works with hospitals in identifying challenges related to medical equipment availability, compliance on preventive maintenance and monitoring environmental conditions affecting patient care. Leveraging LEAN methodology and technological nuances, he prescribes long-term sustainable solutions to achieve operational excellence and enabling hospital staff to focus on care delivery. Kapil’s specialties include sensor hardware including passive and active RFID, software architecture, data analytics and workflow optimization.