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Shipping Solutions for Healthcare Facilities

Healthcare facilities face unique challenges when it comes to inbound and outbound shipping requirements. Operational costs in hospitals and healthcare facilities are often high because they often use the same processes for shipping items, regardless of the contents, delivery timeframe, or destination. Many healthcare facilities have inefficient sending and receiving processes. Some healthcare facilities like hospitals send and receive in large capacities, and all shipments need to be carefully monitored and tracked. Increased visibility into the shipping and receiving is improved with a TMS, resulting in a more efficient way for healthcare facilities to send items. Shipping solutions for healthcare facilities and companies are essential for the timely and secure transportation of medical supplies, equipment, pharmaceuticals, and other healthcare-related materials. 

What is TMS for Healthcare?

Managing multiple carriers with different types of shipments can become overwhelming for healthcare staff because of the complexity involved with some of the materials and products. Healthcare facilities need to invest in shipping software that helps to manage the process. A TMS or Transportation Management System is a software system that is designed to aid companies in managing their logistics operations by planning, executing, and monitoring shipping activities all in one place. The delay of transportation of medications that have temperature requirements can have serious consequences for patients making it important for healthcare organizations to have a strong handle on their transportation processes and the necessary software solutions to support these processes.

Why Do Healthcare Facilities Need a TMS

Like other industries, the healthcare industry requires fast and reliable shipping solutions. According to Pitney Bowes, the average yearly shipping cost for one hospital is $500,000. However, staffing shortages have complicated healthcare facilities’ ability to analyze their shipping costs to determine where improvements can be made. This can harm patients’ experiences when they do not receive medications, records or forms on time, and can in turn, affect the institution’s reputation.

In the healthcare industry, medical services are diverse, with different requirements depending on the product or item being shipped. Compliance and shipping speed are important factors to maintain the integrity of the product. Whether it is a prescription drug delivery or the need for supplies, delivery timeframes are important, as is the need for complete visibility that can be provided by a Transportation Management System. Integrations like automating a patient’s name and address for labels or the ability to track packages from the patient record simplify the shipping process.

The volume at which healthcare organizations ship can be consolidated to be able to find the best carriers, rates, and terms while minimizing administrative costs. The data gathered by a TMS can help to determine what shipments are being received and from where in the supply chain. Alerts can be established to streamline where materials should go when they are received. Here are some shipping solutions and considerations specifically tailored to the healthcare industry:

 

  • Temperature-Controlled Shipping:
      • Pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and certain medical supplies require specific temperature conditions during transportation. Utilize temperature-controlled shipping options to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of these products.
  • Compliance with Regulatory Requirements:
      • Ensure that shipping processes and carriers comply with all relevant regulatory requirements, such as those set by the FDA, CDC, and other HIPPA healthcare authorities.
  • Reliable Couriers and Carriers:
      • Partner with reputable couriers and freight carriers with experience in handling healthcare shipments, especially those that require special handling, like hazardous materials or biological samples.
  • Tracking and Traceability:
      • Implement tracking and traceability systems to monitor the movement of shipments in real time. This is crucial for maintaining the security and visibility of valuable healthcare cargo.
  • Packaging and Labeling:
      • Use appropriate packaging materials and labeling to protect fragile or sensitive medical items during transit. Clearly label packages with essential information, including handling instructions, expiration dates, and product identifiers.
  • Chain of Custody:
      • Establish a clear chain of custody protocol to ensure that medical specimens, samples, or sensitive information remain secure and tamper-free throughout the shipping process.
  • Documentation and Record Keeping:
      • Maintain thorough records of all shipments, including documentation of temperature logs (if applicable), shipping manifests, and compliance documents. This documentation is vital for audits and regulatory compliance.
  • International Shipping Considerations:
      • If shipping across international borders, be aware of customs regulations, import/export requirements, and any additional documentation or permits necessary for healthcare-related shipments.
  • Packaging Validation:
      • Validate the packaging and transportation methods used for sensitive healthcare products through testing and validation processes to ensure the items remain intact and safe during transit.
  • Hazmat Training:
      • Train staff involved in the shipping process on healthcare-specific shipping protocols, compliance requirements, and best practices to minimize errors and ensure safety.
  • Cost Efficiency:
    • Balance the need for secure and specialized shipping solutions with cost efficiency. Evaluate different shipping providers and services to find the best cost-effective options that meet your healthcare shipping needs.

Healthcare Facilities Often Need Temperature Control Shipping

Many healthcare organizations rely on temperature-controlled shipping for some of their products or specialized equipment shipping. Prescription drug delivery, vaccines, clinical kits, and biological samples are often handled through cold-chain shipping, so it is important to maintain the proper temperature. Proper shipping management and ensuring full visibility are necessities for on-time deliveries. A TMS allows a facility to monitor every stage of delivery and helps to avoid disruptions in transit. Because healthcare-related items might require expedited shipping, equipment solutions that deliver the items in the right condition must be used. The ability to maintain product integrity throughout the transportation process is often critical to the end user. The storage and distribution time for temperature-sensitive goods requires attention to detail.

The same is true for the handling of hazardous materials. Certain medical products require specialized handling and transportation practices in order for them to meet compliance regulations. A TMS can aid in managing the transportation of these types of materials as well.

The Future of Healthcare and the Need for a TMS

The healthcare industry is changing rapidly. The increase in remote telehealth services that extend beyond brick-and-mortar clinics could make these shipping challenges more pronounced. As the volume of shipping needs exceeds the staff needed to perform them, healthcare organizations need to streamline their shipping processes. Healthcare operations, particularly larger ones like hospitals, need to standardize their shipping services that do not require special handling, like cold-chain or hazardous materials.

Verizeal TMS for Healthcare Facilities

The healthcare industry has unique logistic considerations. Because the healthcare supply chain is complex, logistics solutions need to be able to deal with the entire process. Verizeal’s logistics platform is designed to be able to handle all the needs of healthcare facilities. 

Verizeal’s shipping solution considers the unique requirements of healthcare shipments, facilities, and companies and can ensure the safe and reliable transportation of vital medical supplies and materials. Collaboration with experienced logistics partners will help streamline the process and enhance overall efficiency.

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