Supply Chain Management in Hospitals

Research output: Types of ThesesMaster's Thesis / Diploma Thesis

Abstract

Today’s challenges, such as the reduction of costs while expecting raised quality of treatment, ever-increasing competition involving comparison of services, as well as narrow financial means, and legal as well as political factors of influence, pile the pressure for a more effective and more efficient organization of structures and processes in hospitals. In order to master these kinds of challenges, supply chain management concepts and methods have been used successfully by economists for decades. Thus it would be obvious to use supply chain management (SCM) in hospitals, too. But since business management approaches should not be transferred to other sectors without reflecting them first, this thesis aims at translating the „traditional“ supply chain management into a version to be used in hospitals. At the beginning, the thesis will deal with the general principles of supply chain management, as well as the particularities of its reference object, the hospital. Afterwards, selected organizational and behavioral theories, which have an influence on the design and management of supply chains, will be discussed and analyzed for their ability of being transferred to hospitals. Based on that analysis, an understanding of supply chain management in hospitals shall be developed, as well as possibilities for integration and recommendations for their implementation shall be demonstrated. The final section of the thesis will describe selected targets and key figures of SCM in hospitals to measure the SC performance. The results of this thesis show that, having regard to certain restrictions resulting from the strong regulation by the state and politics, it is indeed possible to translate supply chain management approaches to be used in hospitals, but that there is still an enormous potential for development. This was proven by the missing or insufficiently developed strategies of hospitals for instance, which is why it is not possible to derive a SC strategy. This is where the first two recommendations for action could be defined already: develop a clear objective and define a comprehensive corporate strategy incl. partial strategies, and develop a SC strategy incl. partial SC strategies. Besides, the analysis showed that traditional SC processes can definitely be integrated into the structures and operations of hospitals. The following eight SC processes could be identified for hospitals: value creation, customer relationship management, patient service management, demand management, order fulfilment and logistics, procurement and supplier relationship management, research and development, and returns management. It can be concluded that SC processes are transferrable to hospitals, but that there is still a lot of potential in how to implement them, which is why recommendations for action were derived again to improve the individual processes (e.g. hiring of in-house service employees or outsourcing of service activities, improvement of collaboration with referring physicians, centralization of material logistics, standardization of material flow processes, optimization of internal procurement logistics, demand aggregation by purchasing co-operations, introduction of a supplier assessment system, selective development and marketing of new products/services, definition of a process for efficient and effective returns handling. Infrastructure, organization, IT and professional groups turned out to be the most significant components that influence the supply chain management in hospitals. The analysis of SC flows (material, information and financial flows) revealed that due to the high significance of patients for hospitals the flow of patients should be considered as another SC flow in hospitals. In the final section of the thesis, selected SC targets and SC key figures for the use in hospitals were determined, illustrating processes and recommendations for action which may influence them.
Translated title of the contributionSupply Chain Management in Hospitals
Original languageGerman
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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