Managing medical and pharmaceutical supplies. It’s a labor intensive and costly process in any healthcare setting.

In five blog posts on, our supply chain experts reveal how your healthcare business can use technology to automate supply chain management. The results can be lower costs and better outcomes.

Better drug distribution efficiency for pharmacies

In “Connecting Pharmaceutical Distribution and Supply Chain Management,” Brent Wunderlich, explained the key role pharmaceutical distribution plays in the supply chain performance at your hospital or pharmacy. Wunderlich is senior director for strategic distribution operations at McKesson. Your drug distribution services must keep as little inventory as possible onsite. Wunderlich listed three technologies that can help:

  • A “just-in-time” drug inventory management system
  • A pharmacy management system that tracks drug use and prices
  • An online drug ordering platform to make and track purchases

Hospitals and pharmacies “need as little cash as possible tied up in medications sitting on a shelf,” he said. “That money can drop to the bottom line or be used for other purposes.”

Improving product standardization for health systems

In “Leveraging Product Standardization for Health System Efficiency,” John Pildis cited the benefits that using technology to standardize products, supplies and equipment can bring to your health system. Pildis is vice president of materials management at McKesson. He said product standardization can:

  • Improve operational efficiency by reducing SKUs and vendors
  • Enhance financial performance by purchasing fewer supplies
  • Boost clinical outcomes by reducing variability of clinical products

“Health systems need to build an organizational capacity for product standardization,” Pildis said. “By that I mean building a culture and acquiring the capabilities to continuously pursue product standardization.”

Automated medical supply orders for physician practices

In “Improving Medical Supply Ordering for Physician Practices,” Jayme White said your medical practice should look at how it orders medical supplies. What you might find is lower operating costs. White is director of technology sales for McKesson Medical-Surgical,

She said your practice can use technology to automate medical supply management processes. That reduces manual inefficiencies that inflate costs. She said your practice can automate medical supply assessment, procurement, receiving and order reconciliation.

The technologies should track and analyze your spending to flag problems or opportunities for savings, White said.

Greater inventory management for surgery centers

In “Automating Intraocular Lens Inventory Management,” Jayme White described how your ophthalmology surgery center can apply many of the same medical supply chain ordering lessons. She said your surgery center can use technology to automate how you manage your intraocular lens (IOL) inventory. White said you can combine a web-based inventory management application with barcode scanning technology. That combination can let your practice know in real-time:

  • When an IOL was consigned
  • The size and brand of the IOL
  • When the IOL expires
  • When the IOL was used
  • The identity of the patient who received the IOL
  • Whether your practice paid the manufacturer for the IOL

“A nurse or other clinician who was spending an hour or two each day manually inventorying IOLs can now use that time on direct patient care,” White said.

Seamless drug supply for pharmacies

In “Optimizing Perpetual Inventory Systems for Retail Chain Pharmacies,” Victor Vercammen outlined the steps your retail pharmacy chain can take to build a perpetual inventory system. Vercammen is vice president of business strategy and industry relations at Supplylogix.The three steps are:

  • Perform a baseline drug inventory count
  • Learn how to use existing inventory management tools
  • Conduct ongoing drug inventory maintenance

“Pharmacies with the continuous visibility provided by a perpetual inventory system know what they have and what they need. They can determine what they have too much of, what they have too little of, what they’re likely to run out of, when they’re going to run out, and how much they’re investing in each drug,” he said.

As our four experts can attest, technology can unlock the power of your supply chain. Your healthcare organization can use that power to improve business and clinical results.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s pharmaceutical distribution services

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McKesson editorial staff is committed to sharing innovative approaches and insights so our customers can get the most out of their business solutions and identify areas for operational improvement and revenue growth.

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