TBO Healthcare has obtained a patent for the world’s first AI-Driven hospital logistics system. The COVID pandemic has elevated the challenges facing US hospital supply chains. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning hold the promise of fixing this problem.
While shortages of PPE is certainly an obvious challenge given the unique characteristics of the way the COVID virus is spread, other shortages can also have a negative impact on patient care and outcomes. Reports of procedures being delayed due to shortages of needed supplies or medications are commonplace. The usual reaction is to order extra quantities of the items in short supply, which creates shortages for other hospitals, as well as the potential for the ordering hospital to end up with expired products which ends up being wasted. Sadly, so many of the problems related to these issues are the result of human involvement. We’ve reached that time in the evolution of supply chain practices where machines can actually take over many of the processes that lead to error and can also bring about operating savings.
To the issue of the effect these supply chain processes can have on patient care, there are surveys that reveal that in addition to the aforementioned supply related delayed medical procedures, nursing and other professional staff are often spending considerable amounts of time searching for needed medical supplies. Naturally, this takes them away from their primary function, which is devoting time to the patents entrusted to their care.
So, what are the benefits of an Artificial Intelligence Supply Chain Management (SCM) system?
- A fully automated operation/response to any situation with the machine predicting need based on consumption and demand as identified by inventory levels, EHR interface, and immediately places orders consistent with its findings, with no need for human intervention
- Safe stock levels are guaranteed and wastage due to expiration never occurs
- Able to respond automatically to sudden increases or decreases in usage
- System actions flow through to Revenue Cycle Management and Accounts Payable without error, following earlier established criteria
- Self-coordinated system between Warehouse Management System and Warehouse Control System, including use of aggregated bar-coding, and Digital Picking System
- Humans relieved of the need to forecast need, place purchase orders, and engage in other replenishment routines
- Healthcare professionals’ time can be devoted to patient care rather than supply issues
- The system can be monitored through a dashboard, without need to access the system
- Zero errors
While hospital logistics in the US is just entering 3PL status, this platform introduces 6PL, and is a paradigm shift that will forever change the way US hospitals handle their supply chain processes. When put in the context of motor vehicles, an AI-Driven SCM system is the equivalent of a self-driving automobile.
Hospitals that have used the earlier version of this Zero Inventory System, have experienced reductions in supply chain costs of 22% through reduced labor, reduced warehouse space, elimination of human errors related to supply ordering, billing, and payment, as well as the elimination of wasted supplies due to breached expiration dates, among other benefits. With Supply Chain costs making up the second highest cost item in hospital expenses, just behind labor, savings of that amount can have a significant impact on the bottom line. With the addition of AI, blockchain and greater traceability, as offered in this new patent, savings of greater than 22% is certainly achievable.