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Hospital-at-home: Ensure integrity of supplies

Hospital-at-home: Ensure integrity of supplies

Alex HoopesQ. How are hospital-at-home supply chain logistics different than in brick-and-mortar health care?   

A. In a traditional hospital setting, large trucks make deliveries to facility loading docks on routine schedules. These products are then stored all over the hospital in patient rooms and storage closets. If a patient needs a product and it is not already in the hospital room, a nurse can easily walk down the hall to a supply closet to get what they need.  

With hospital-at-home programs, each patient’s home is its own delivery location, and the delivery schedule is unpredictable based on the patient’s needs on any given day. There’s minimal space to store excess products and the impact of a patient needing a product but not having it is high. This creates a need for meticulous pre-planning to minimize stock-out and excess deliveries and robust asset tracking, given products and devices are scattered across many locations.  

HME distributors and suppliers are uniquely positioned to partner with hospitals for these programs, especially when it comes to technical expertise and ensuring the integrity of medical supplies, products and equipment utilized throughout the hospital-at-home supply chain. If a hospital system is managing deliveries themselves, nurses or paramedics may carry a trunk stock of products that can be potentially exposed to extreme temperatures. This can affect the safety and integrity of the products. A distribution expert with a specialized vehicle to make these deliveries offers unmatched benefits to the hospital system to ensure no loss of product is experienced in-transit.  

Finally, equipment often needs to be set up – Bluetooth- or Internet-enabled devices need to be “online” to work. These devices can be finicky – we see a lot of patients that live in areas where cellular connectivity is poor. These are not problems that brick-and-mortar facilities are used to dealing with. Hospitals benefit from working with specially trained HME technicians who know exactly how to install and troubleshoot in the field. 

Alex Hoopes is senior director, Strategy and Execution – Cardinal Health Velocare. 


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