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Special report: Linking the health care supply chain

by Carol Ko, Staff Writer | December 18, 2013
From the December 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Similarly, UPS’s My Choice platform enables customers to choose the time of delivery to ensure they receive their parcel.

These time-specific delivery options are especially beneficial for patients who are waiting for time-sensitive medications and other treatments, or even home health nurses seeking to plan deliveries to coincide with their patient visits.
“We think is a great game changer for the residential delivery market and enhances the connected experience,” says Hooker.

Jack of all trades?
Naturally, opinion is divided on UPS’s entrance into the health care space. Some critics argue that the company has some catching up to do to get up to speed on the health care industry, which requires specific regulatory expertise.

But UPS’s Hooker argues that UPS’s expertise in other industries is a benefit, not a drawback. “There are lessons to be learned throughout the supply chain,” he says. It’s widely acknowledged that compared with the efficiency gains made in other industries such as consumer electronics or retail, health care supply chains still have a long way to go.

As hospitals merge and form alliances, their logistics consequently become more stressed. “There’s a lot of redundancy — the opportunity to drive efficiencies is huge,” says Ira Tauber, executive vice president/COO of Triose.

Part of this is due to the unique regulatory challenges in the health care space that other sectors are unaffected by. Certain products require specialized handling.

“The stringent requirements were something we thought we would be very good at,” explains Hooker. In all its centers UPS displays signs with its favorite health care mantra: “It’s a patient, not a package.”

But the benefits of specialization aren’t entirely lost on these new players. UPS has paired up with health care logistics firm Triose, which specializes in serving hospitals. The two firms work symbiotically, explains Tauber.

“We have the expertise in working within health systems, while UPS has the systems and the processes we rely on that give that control and visibility and savings,” he explains. “Whether it be domestic, international, parcel, air freight or LPL truckload — they give us a great set of tools to work with.”

And in late October Cardinal Health also announced a similar alliance with FedEx. “With the changes happening in the market, everyone needs to evaluate the chain and look for new solutions to respond to changes in health care,” says Rob Doone, vice president of Integrated Logistics Services at Cardinal Health.

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