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Essential Considerations for Healthcare Digital Procurement

Digitizing the supply chain enables healthcare providers to deliver the right product to the right patient at the right time at a lower cost. Digital procurement platform improves the conventional procurement methods and boosts the efficiency of process and workforce. Healthcare companies can be better placed through implementing a digital procurement platform. Technological advances can be leveraged to improve data flow and analytics, provider-patient connectivity, inventory tracking, and regulatory compliance. This article discusses the essential factors that must be considered when implementing digital procurement for the healthcare sector.

Evaluating Business Need

Identifying or anticipating current operations or business needs is the first step in digital procurement planning. Hence, this is important for any business to identify the gaps and potential improvement areas in existing purchasing processes and their associated risks and challenges. Involving the procurement team at this stage will help in identifying the most time-consuming tasks and their direct impact on the business. Procurement plays a vital role in healthcare supply chain management, which is currently the second-highest cost for healthcare institutions. Procurement’s key responsibility in the healthcare business is to effectively manage and reduce needless spending by properly managing contracts, vendors, and inventory. The pandemic, on the other side, pushed the world’s as well as the healthcare industry economy into turmoil, disclosing supply chain gaps. Strategic procurement would aid in the improvement of healthcare supply chains. A strategic objective with a professional procurement team can assist an organization to create significant cost savings that can be invested in the organization’s growth.

Analyzing Market Conditions

After a thorough assessment of business needs, the company must assess and analyze market conditions and future scenarios. This assessment comprises all the valuable details about suppliers, vendors, etc. This procurement process also includes identifying opportunities and connecting them with a business strategy. To be relevant in the business, companies must keep their data up to date. The data gathered in this step is used as a company knowledge base and the foundation for digital procurement planning in the healthcare industry.  The findings of this study can assist the management in enhancing and structuring their strategies and procurement process. In addition, assessment helps in synchronizing and aligning market behavior to get better value for money, lower prices, or more excellent service.

Determining Procurement Methodology

Identifying the most cost-effective and long-term procurement methods and tools is the first step in building a procurement strategy. Selecting purchase methods depends on available resources and how the organization will function after implementing an efficient procurement method. This step is vital regarding the digitization of procurement procedures because this will assist the procurement department in performing better and meeting company goals. When procurement methods are defined, list down the processes in descending order of their impact on the organization’s bottom line. For example, to determine the current state of the company’s procurement functions, tools such as a SWOT analysis can be used.

Defining Procurement Policies

The most crucial stage is to compile a list of the most acceptable procurement procedures that will eliminate the inefficiencies that are currently present in the current system. The strategy should match the organizational needs, whether shape the previous one or build a new one. When designing a procurement policy for any organization, it is advisable to avoid beginning from zero. However, they can customize existing procurement policy templates to match their organization’s needs. Procurement policies, in theory, must provide ethical guidelines for all stakeholders involved in the process, as well as consequences for any transgressions. The company must get input from everyone involved in the procurement process and understand their views and requirements before drafting a procurement policy. This will help to reduce their production time, reduce workload, and eliminate unnecessary processes.  In Healthcare Industry, this is essential to take the inputs from clinicians and other allied staff to gain more insight into the current procurement challenges and feedback on how to improve upon them.

Communicating with Relevant Parties

Communication is a crucial pillar supporting stakeholder involvement in procurement strategy creation. The procurement team must align stakeholder needs with the help of effective communication. There is a consistent need for stakeholders to participate in the procurement process. All stakeholders and relevant parties must be convinced that digitization will have a significant benefit. This phase also requires the creation of a team to continue providing development updates to both stakeholders and customers. An effective communication plan ensures the success of the project. Reports are useless if no one understands why they are being produced, as too much time is lost owing to a lack of communication about the needs of stakeholders. The essential needs of patients, caregivers, and health systems should be considered in the planning and acquiring of digital health technologies. Thus, communication is a pivotal contributor to choosing the right product for the right people.

Investing in Digital Platform

Companies can prevent difficulties like human errors, purchase order delays, and late payments by using software that helps them manage procurement more efficiently. The information gained in this step serves as a knowledge base for the enterprise and as the basis for digital procurement planning in the medical industry. As a result, the digital procurement platform improves employees’ performance and concurrently helps reduce repetitive manual mistakes in procurement. Healthcare digital procurement system is a must-have component in the healthcare industry. The healthcare industry benefits from a digital procurement platform, including lower inventory costs, more accessible communication with suppliers, and on-time delivery of supplies. The investment in a digital procurement platform allows the hospital to focus more on its services, allowing hospitals to provide patient care at a lower cost.


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References

Deskera. (2022).“How to Build a Procurement Strategy in 8 Steps”. Retrieved from https://www.deskera.com/blog/procurement-strategy/,accessed on 21/03/2022.

Jolynn Chong Chew Lan, GDSCM (2020). “Big Data Analytics Of the Healthcare Supply Chain.” Retrieved from SIPMM: https://publication.sipmm.edu.sg/big-data-analytics-healthcare-supply-chain/, accessed on 21/03/2022.

Muhammad Yaser, DPSM (2021). “Best Practices for the Healthcare Procurement Process.” Retrieved from SIPMM: https://publication.sipmm.edu.sg/best-practices-healthcare-procurement-process/, accessed on 21/03/2022.

Shaw, James, et. al. (2020). “Identifying and Overcoming Policy-Level Barriers to the Implementation of Digital Health Innovation: Qualitative Study”. Retrieved from: https://www.jmir.org/2019/12/e14994/,  accessed on 21/03/2022.

Yuly Maria Wieh, GDPSCM (2021). “Crucial Factors for Implementing Digital Procurement.” Retrieved from SIPMM: https://publication.sipmm.edu.sg/crucial-factors-implementing-digital-procurement/, accessed on 21/03/2022.

Abhishek Sinha, GDPSCM
Abhishek Sinha, GDPSCM
Abhishek Sinha has 20 years of substantive experience in the specialized field of medical equipment, specifically in planning and procurement. He holds a Bachelor's degree in engineering and he is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). Abhishek completed the Graduate Diploma in Procurement and Supply Chain Management (GDPSCM) in April 2022 at SIPMM Institute.
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