Mobile Tech Expands To Strengthen Supply Chain Links

Smaller devices push for larger gains in point-of-care, point-of-use performance

When fictional industrialist Diet Smith introduced to Dick Tracy in his eponymous comic strip the “2-Way Wrist Radio” in 1946 and then the “2-Way Wrist TV” in 1964, he might have envisioned physicians sending prescriptions to pharmacies, radiologists reading X-ray images and supply chain managers monitoring inventory locations and tracking individual products remotely via mobile devices.

Today, more than a half-century after Smith’s futuristic inventions made the funny pages, healthcare organizations employ mobile tech for a variety of communications, electronic interactions, and tracking and tracing functions. They include identifying patients and linking those patients to the proper clinical procedures and products used on them, tracking and managing access to and usage of medical/surgical and pharmaceutical products and equipment, tracking specimens for the laboratory, and transmitting data to electronic health records and billing.

Mobile tools employed by clinicians and administrators run the gamut between hand-held computers and mobile readers, including smart phones, wrist-mounted devices and electronic eyewear that can project images and instructions via online/wi-fi-enabled chips.

In short, if mobile capabilities represent the future of healthcare interoperability, then welcome to the future. Clinical and supply chain operations continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible, leaping over broken barriers even as they face and strive to be at least one step ahead of ongoing issues with security concerns.

The point is/of use

Carl Natenstedt

Mobile access makes it a good time to be in healthcare business if it’s simple and seamless, according to Carl Natenstedt, CEO, Z5 Inventory Inc., Austin, TX.

“Mobile technologies, including voice, scanning and other solutions that can accompany today’s powerful mobile devices, enable great advances in healthcare supply chain,” he said. “By placing easy-to-use mobile technologies that are reliably connected to the primary operational systems like ERPs and EHRs in the hands of clinicians and support staff, we can enable the capture of real-time product usage information accurately and consistently. This data, when analyzed with modern data mining techniques can open up new opportunities for operational improvements unlocking savings previously unattainable. The key to success for new mobile solutions is ease-of-use. These solutions need to be as simple and unobtrusive to use as today’s modern social media apps. They need to run on reliable, easily integratable platforms, making them ubiquitous in the clinical setting.”

Mobile tech can fuel financial and operational opportunities in several ways, which Gregory Seiders, Director, Supply Chain, Claflin Co., Warwick, RI, categorizes as preventing losses in terms of costs or increasing revenue.

“While mobile technology can certainly aid in preventing losses, perhaps the largest opportunity is increasing revenue through capturing patient charges,” Seiders insisted. “With clinicians rightfully focused on properly completing procedures and patient care, it is little surprise that not all billable items used in a procedure are recorded on paper. Mobile technology can be used to quickly tie captured bar codes and lot numbers to patient Medical Resource Numbers (MRNs), with scanning capabilities speeding data recording and preventing common errors. The inherent benefits of speed and accuracy lead to improved efficiency, lower cost, and a chance to create an environment of continuous improvement within the supply chain.”

Mobile tech also can reduce the amount of time that clinicians spend trying to locate products they need, Freund continued.

“We have all seen the case studies that show where clinicians can spend as much as 20 percent of their day on supply chain-related activities, the most frustrating of which is trying to find the items they need,” he said. “Using mobile technology, nurses can simply scan the bar code for an item that has stocked out of a supply room. The mobile device will display all locations in the hospital or even in other hospitals within the system where that item exists and enable the nurse to execute a transfer of the item from one stocking location to another. Having this capability allows nurses to spend more time with patients and less time looking for supplies.”

For the article in its entirety:  Mobile Tech Expands To Strengthen Supply Chain Links




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