4 Ways Data Can Help You Manage Your Supply Chain

How do you manage your supply chain? This high-priority operational task is essential to creating and managing a safe and well-equipped practice for treating patients but did you know that you can leverage your existing business data to make better-informed supply chain decisions? Keep reading to discover how you can boost operations through elevated supply chain management. 

But what does supply chain management actually mean? 

Specific functions include accurately tracking inventory, openly communicating with suppliers, and ensuring timely replenishment of essential equipment and materials – all of which are most effective when managed proactively.

The fundamental responsibility of managing a supply chain requires a strong familiarity with your practice’s supply and demand. But even if you have a grasp of that demand, you may be finding it challenging to acquire enough supply. COVID-19-related gaps have been an ongoing struggle for many private practices and small physician groups who don’t have the same buying power as major healthcare institutions. Budgetary constraints and PPE shortages often add further fuel to the fire, resulting in adverse supply chain disruptions for many practices.  

So, how can you manage a healthy supply chain system? Learning the best practices of supply chain management is a great place to start. This article will walk you through each step toward enhancing supply chain operations within your private practice.

Leverage technology 

Organizing your practice’s supply chain management is no small task. But with technology on your side, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Data analytics have been designed to provide insights into complex jobs like supply chain and product inventory.

Harnessing the right data is sure to improve your practice’s efficiency, and tracking your supplies to ensure they’re organized, well-stocked, and available for patient use, are all tasks that technology can help you master. 

For expert assistance in leveraging your data, refer to experienced professionals who can help you manage and optimize your administrative processes.

Build supplier relationships

Managing strong supplier relationships is the foundation to a reliable, consistent supply chain. Distributors and vendors are a valuable source of knowledge and can help you better understand product availability, delivery times, and more. In the case of supply shortages, a trusted supplier may help keep you out of a crisis by offering recommendations on replacement products or helping you create a plan to deal with expected supply gaps. 

The better you get to know your supplier, the better you can both work together to help your physicians provide superior care.  

Determine your inventory lifecycle

Inventory mastery is at the crux of the supply chain, and for a good reason. Order too much, and you run the risk of carrying excess from month-to-month, tying up revenues in surplus items. Order too little, and you face the possibility of running out. 

Don’t jeopardize your patients’ needs and safety by ordering supplies based on yours or anyone else’s best guess. The best way to determine your ideal product levels is through analysis of your business data. Obtain and compare inventory reports from month-to-month to see what product needs may have changed and what items should be consistently re-ordered.

Assessing past reports is generally the right way to predict future trends, but try to allow for variables. Also, consider any PPE that your practice may need and how those needs may change in the future. Take action to secure a reliable source before you reach an emergency shortage. 

Choose cost-efficient purchasing options

Cost-efficient buying habits are crucial for optimizing your supply chain management. Buying items in bulk is a common approach, but as mentioned above, you’ll want to implement bulk purchases on a case-by-case basis to prevent over-ordering. 

Many vendors are open to standing order or blanket order arrangements, which can be very advantageous to you as the customer. Like a subscription service, a standing order guarantees you a set price on a set amount of goods delivered at set intervals – for example, 15 boxes at $10/box delivered on the first of every month. Blanket orders typically include a price guarantee for a particular volume of purchases over a certain period of time, with delivery quantities varying as needed. For example, 50 boxes secured at $20/box over the course of one year, but with monthly deliveries ranging from 1-3 boxes based on demand. 

Standing orders and blanket orders can help you secure favorable pricing on the items you know you need. This also helps prevent processing delays.

Wrap-up 

Skillful supply chain management is a crucial part of building a robust administrative process within your practice. By evaluating your data, considering your specific needs, and foreseeing potential gaps in inventory, you’ll achieve a streamlined supply chain operation in no time. 

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