Supply chain management best practices extend beyond retail

Supply chain management is not only for retailers. While merchants are likely the first group that comes to mind when discussing procurement and logistics, the field extends to any company with a need to move goods. The technology and competencies that make a great retail supply chain can extend to other fields as well. In recent years, advances in these techniques and products have been many and varied, focusing on making each employee, each piece of software and each physical location in the supply chain as efficient as possible.

The healthcare industry, for example, has a need to move information quickly and resupply in a hurry. In their constant fight to save lives, hospital administrators can gain valuable time by mastering supply chain competencies - the same skills that have transformed sales in the age of e-commerce.

Top examples

National healthcare network VHA recently released the names of the best hospital supply chains during the past year. VHA officials took the opportunity to describe what is important in a healthcare organization's logistics operations. The source stated that improving efficiency and managing costs are important, but not at the cost of patient care and comfort - the most successful organizers and administrators are those who can keep processes both effective and affordable.

"Hospitals must embrace an assortment of effective tools and processes that fully integrate the hospital's supply chain with all of its clinical, operational and financial processes," said VHA executive vice president Scott Downing. "By maximizing their supply chain potential, these winning hospitals are better prepared to identify and implement innovative, sustainable supply chain savings that will enable them to reduce costs without compromising, and ultimately improving, quality."

Widespread EDI

A recent Healthcare Finance News report focused on the technological systems that keep hospitals running. With lives on the line, the need to keep information moving in a hospital unimpeded is even greater than in other service oriented businesses. Electronic data interchange (EDI) can move information, especially secure financial data, between supply chain partners no matter the field. Healthcare Finance News suggested that providers adopt the systems immediately for billing processes.

The same systems that make sure partners work in tandem in retail supply chains can also make the patient-administrator financial relationship smooth and easy. Efficiency-building systems and procedures are universal - what works in one field will likely work in another.