November 20, 2017
By: Mark Olney

Learn how Software-as-a-Service reduces supply chain management stress

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is fast becoming the norm for business operations in many industries. Yet it has not been a priority for healthcare providers. As the option to remain with traditional ERP services fast slips away, it is time for health leaders to consider transitioning their traditional on-premise ERP applications to a SaaS model.

Health systems face a number of unique supply chain management (SCM) headaches that the SaaS based solutions have only encountered in a limited fashion. From maintaining par inventory counts to supply distribution involving multiple care locations, SCM is a critical logistical capability at health systems.

The quickening pace of mergers and acquisitions among leading healthcare providers–coupled with expansion into ambulatory care facilities and home health services to provide care across the care continuum–only ups the ante.

Provider SCM executives need applications that not only address processes unique to their supply chain operations, but are flexible enough to adjust to rapidly changing conditions and the never-ending demand for improved efficiency. The SaaS model offers this through more frequent updates to features, plus scalability and lower long-term maintenance costs.

SaaS solutions offer emerging functionality to handle a myriad of operational challenges. Consider the management of contract prices. In many ERP systems, supporting GPO pricing with multiple tiers and distributors requires manipulating data, special customizations or third-party extensions. With SaaS, contract price integrity is a core feature in most systems, easily upgraded by accessing the cloud.

Item data integration, vendor self-registration and vendor collaboration are other SCM challenges for which SaaS can bring unprecedented order and structure.

As mobile solutions become more mission-critical to SCM, anytime, anywhere access is the norm for most SaaS solutions. SaaS users can also look forward to additional functionality-enhancing delivery tracking and other bar-code transactions.

SCM applications require tight integration with financials and human capital management applications to provide full-functioning SCM solutions. Therefore, when considering SCM SaaS applications, health systems should contemplate tier 1 enterprise solutions that provide holistic functionality across human capital management, financials and supply chain management.

Ultimately, SCM solutions need to provide health systems with the ability to decrease the overall cost of patient care by enabling collaboration with clinical protocols, and to influence decision-making.

After 20 years of traditional ERP, SaaS is the right direction for the future. More and more healthcare SCM leaders realize this and are moving forward now to tap into the power of SaaS.

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