Role of Technology in Strengthening the Supply Chain

June, 2023
Role of Technology in Strengthening the Supply Chain
The healthcare supply chain is an intricate system that involves production, distribution, and delivery of medications, medical devices, and supplies to patients. It includes a variety of safeguards that enables it to function effectively even during pandemics or natural disasters and involves various stakeholders, such as manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, pharmacies, hospitals, and healthcare providers, who work together to ensure that patients have access to the healthcare supplies they need.

Nowadays, technology is playing a significant role in strengthening and transforming the healthcare supply chain and improving patient care. Utilizing smart solutions has enabled healthcare providers in streamlining processes, reducing costs, and improving overall the accuracy and efficiency of supply chain management.

One example of technology in the healthcare supply chain is the use of paperless health records, which was one of the earliest steps in the Kingdom’s Health Sector Transformation Program. Digitalized health records enabled healthcare providers to access patient information almost instantly, allowing for more accurate and efficient treatment. They also enable healthcare providers to track medications and medical supplies more accurately, reducing the risk of errors and delays in delivery.

Another application of technology in the healthcare supply chain is the use of barcoding and other similar automated inventory management systems. Barcoding and similar automation solutions can also help reduce waste and costs, as healthcare providers can more easily track expiration dates and usage rates, and order supplies only when needed. It also helps in maintaining only what is required as per actual consumption across various facilities and promotes centralization.

Additionally, new technologies such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have the potential to revolutionize the healthcare supply chain. Blockchain technology can help improve transparency and security in the supply chain by providing a secure record of all transactions. AI can help healthcare providers to optimize inventory management, reduce waste, and predict demand for medications and medical supplies more accurately over a period of time and can help to maintain healthy stock levels.

Even through implementing new technologies in supply chains can have an enhancing effect there are many challenges that the healthcare providers will face, ranging from the high cost of new technologies and the expense of training employees which requires providers, to invest time and money and integrating with older systems, which can be complex and requires significant planning. the major disadvantages of utilizing technologies in the supply chain is linked with data security and cyberattacks as well as potential staff resistance to applying new methods or adapting to new systems at work.

Overall, the use of technology in the healthcare supply chain has the potential to significantly improve patient care, reduce costs, increase efficiency and ultimately provide a better outcome for both the patient and the providers. As technology continues to advance, is it expected to see further innovations in the healthcare supply chain that will improve the delivery of healthcare supplies and services. It’s worth nothing that EMA has extended many efforts in sustainability, we have equipped our warehouses with the latest technological advancements in medical storage. We are also keen on increasing the effectiveness and speed of our supply-chain operations, further contributing to support the Saudi Vision 2030’s goals.