Hospital logistics “medicine” for the crisis

The management of hospital logistics is important in response to the current health crisis. Its objective is to increase the quality of service and patient safety; managing to reduce costs to the Health System. In a hospital, if inventory is not available, catastrophic events can occur for the patient. The complexity of a hospital is high in relation to other sectors. The needs of patients are different, requiring medical-surgical supplies, medications and procedures, generating a greater number of processes to manage. Demand is not easy to predict, especially in emergency services.

Due to this unique variability in the health sector, the lack of use of universal product traceability standards makes it difficult to achieve an important operational performance for patient safety, an issue that in other sectors such as mass consumption, has already been solved. Imagine if the barcode of a food changed depending on the supermarket chain where you bought it.

Try to imagine that each product had a different identification label or barcode; In other words, if the government wanted to have a code, different from the supplier and different from the supermarket, wouldn’t it be chaos to handle any industry or sector in this way? This is what happens in a network of hospitals.

In Colombia, almost 7% of the Gross Domestic Product GDP is invested in health and the figure in a few years will be 9%. The logistics cost of a hospital is between 35% and 40% of the operating cost. In Europe and Canada, they point out that with best practices the impact can be reduced by 30% of this item, which is equal to a 12% saving of the total cost of a hospital. If hospital logistics models are implemented, the impact in Colombia could be almost 0.8% savings in GDP. In an American publication “To err is human”, it is revealed that medical errors associated with poor logistics and operations practices take the lives of more than 60,000 Americans a year. In the case of the nursing service, a profession in deficit, 40% of the time is used in patient care, the remaining 60% is used in non-healthcare tasks attributable to logistics management practices.

This figure could increase to more than 70% of time spent caring for patients, which would generate a lower probability of morbidity and mortality in ICUs, so named in this pandemic. The difficulty of health logistics is the balance between the normative or ethical aspect and the instrumental or efficiency aspect.

If the government and the hospital union decide to work to implement better logistics practices, what is vital for a national health system can be fulfilled and quality, safety and patient satisfaction can be improved.

There are institutions that are working on the issue, but we need it to be everyone’s agenda. The implementation of logistics is a “medicine” for the crisis faced by the health system, reducing clinical errors, saving lives and generating savings.


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