Healthcare logistics expert vision

Smart logistics provide an answer to healthcare trends

We've known for years, but Corona brought it to a head: the pressure on the healthcare system is always increasing. For how much longer is it tenable? The labour offer is small and sectors are competing with each other for people. The organisation and the logistics operation need innovations to meet current healthcare demands, says Huub Zijlstra, Health sector manager of PostNL. Zijlstra indicates three trends that require smart healthcare logistics: more demand for healthcare, more home care and more say for the patient. Collaboration can provide innovative and reliable solutions.

Trend 1: Higher healthcare demand

“Healthcare demand has been increasing for years. The coronavirus pandemic increased the pressure on the healthcare system even more last year. Some of the outcomes where positive. It showed how beautiful or valuable it is to provide care. It helps the sector to attract more employees," says Zijlstra. However, the labour offer is very tight. In other words, creative solutions are needed to meet the ever growing demand. Huub Zijlstra: “In addition to providing (medical) care, healthcare also relates to service(s) and logistics. If organisations have a good idea where healthcare professionals are really needed, it offers space to outsource other work.” This is where PostNL comes in, says Zijlstra. “As a specialist in healthcare logistics we are ideally equipped for the supply and delivery of equipment, aids and medicines.”

Trend 2: More home care

The supply and delivery of products should not only focus on producers, retailers and care providers. People don't necessarily go to the GP or specialist for their healthcare needs. Increasingly, organisations are also providing home care which means people no longer need to leave their home for a blood test, for example. In addition, new technology is making it easier to provide telecare. Take, for example, sensors to monitor insulin of diabetics. The corona crisis has accelerated these developments. These services also demand smart healthcare logistics. Zijlstra: "If a nurse arrives on a Tuesday morning to take care of a patient at home, it's important the right tools are already there."

Trend 3: More say for the patient

There is another challenge in this digital age: patients expect care providers and medical suppliers to give them control over deliveries and appointments. They are used to this when online shopping or booking a taxi digitally. Why should they not expect the same service in terms of healthcare? This need also demands smart healthcare logistics. PostNL is able to meet this need through various services. When delivering medicines to the home, patients can choose between a number of time slots with a two-hour interval. Couriers deliver medical aids to the door, or the location where the patient needs them. “By facilitating patients and giving them a say, you increase their participation in the healthcare process. This benefits the quality of healthcare and the appreciation for healthcare”, says Zijlstra.

Partners in healthcare logistics

Hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories, medical wholesalers, etc., every organisation has its own challenges in terms of services and healthcare logistics, says Zijlstra. “At PostNL we'll gladly find out what they want, together with these organisations. For example, the Erasmus MC wanted to provide specialist medication to patients, without forcing them to make a long trip to hospital. A smart solution was developed for this. The medication is put in a health box and delivered to the patient's home under the right conditions. Together with the hospital and the polyclinic pharmacy we developed a new secure form of logistics which is innovative, safe and reliable.”

Trends in healthcare logistics

Nicolas Vannieuwenhuyze (General Manager Pharma & Care Belgium) discusses how the global healthcare market and logistics are changing. Watch the video!


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