A hospital is similar to a factory, except that it does not produce an actual product. Its core ‘raw material’ is human beings. Any aspect that can be improved behind the scenes to avoid staff having to waste precious time on administrative tasks is another step towards even better healthcare. It is also good for society as a whole, as a more cost-efficient hospital also means better use of public funds. With around a thousand beds, the city of Ghent’s university hospital (UZ Gent) has a long tradition of using technology to improve the patient care level.
A big hospital has a huge need for many different items, and UZ Gent is no exception. With around 6,000 employees, the hospital regularly purchases products ranging from toilet paper, linen and coffee to very expensive scanners or other medical equipment (not to mention medicines, which are part of a separate goods flow). This demands a sizable logistics and warehousing system with complex stock issues. UZ Gent has optimized its logistics processes so that around 2,500 different materials and products are distributed from a central warehouse on a just-in-time basis to the 56 decentralized storage locations. Moreover, around 7,500 non-stocked materials are dispatched using cross-docking principles upon arrival at the central warehouse. This results in an end-to-end supply chain in which all items are always available to treat a patient at any moment of the day.
The challenge was to ensure the smooth running of this chain, taking into account the limited amount of storage space and the fluctuating usage by the doctors and specialists.
By eliminating paper-based ordering processes and considerably reducing the days in inventory for thousands of items, the hospital significantly and sustainably reduced its operating costs. The time and energy this has freed up can now be focused on further improving patient care.
In addition, hospital managers have a better insight into the stock levels and they can see precisely who has purchased what. The solution is also futureproof, enabling tracking and tracing of medical devices and implants according to new regulations.
The technical solution is based on SAP, including SRM (Supplier Relationship Management). In recognition of the impressive results achieved by the very close collaboration between UZ Gent and delaware, the university hospital received the SAP Quality Award in 2016.