5 Benefits of Low-Code for Healthcare Supply Chain Management

Paul Bidez, Industry Vice President, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, and Automotive
May 23, 2022

Supply chain shocks have wracked organizations across the globe, and healthcare and life sciences companies aren’t immune. News headlines were focused on personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages early in the pandemic, and more recently hospitals have faced shortages of much-needed medical supplies like crutches, gauze, and medications. With patient outcomes on the line, getting the right supplies to medical staff often has life-or-death implications that other industries don’t face.

If you work in healthcare or life sciences, managing supply chain risk starts with developing greater visibility. The right enterprise-grade low-code platform will offer just that, allowing you to connect disparate systems and data silos to adapt faster to supply chain issues. Below are five key benefits of leading low-code platforms.

1. Enhanced supply chain collaboration.

Good communication is critical for supply chain success. A strong low-code platform will help you connect disparate systems and data silos, leading to better coordination of information and actions across internal teams and external vendors. This lets you identify delays, request supplies sooner to cut order lead times, and mitigate risk. For example, let’s say a pharmaceutical manufacturer can’t fulfill an order in full. With a low-code platform, you can flag this early, giving pharmacies time to properly ration medications so patients are cared for until they can restock.

2. Better demand predictions.

Planners traditionally work from historical data. For example, they might use information from previous flu seasons to predict the supply of vaccines and medications they’ll need for the current year. No doubt, historical data is valuable, but the pandemic and recent supply chain disruptions have demonstrated the importance of considering additional variables when making predictions about consumer demand. 

If you work in life sciences manufacturing, using a technology that connects to customers’ systems offers you real-time data for more accurate demand forecasting. For example, if a region faces a particularly contagious disease outbreak, you may see increased demand for PPE, test kits, or over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms. Noting this spike early lets you ramp up production or shift inventory to better meet patient needs.

3. Easier compliance.

Maintaining compliance for just one company is tough enough, and it can quickly become even more challenging with numerous third parties involved in integrated supply chain networks. You may need to choose partners who meet emissions standards, avoid suppliers in corrupt or embargoed countries, or gain better visibility around chains of custody for pharmaceuticals or vaccines. 

With the right low-code platform on your side, you can efficiently connect to supplier systems, build new or leverage existing reports to track and demonstrate key compliance metrics, and create automated triggers when a potential compliance risk arises. Plus, low-code can help you quickly build applications at scale, from a targeted mobile application that tracks chains of custody for delivery drivers to a larger application offering a central view of end-to-end compliance data.

4. Support for just-in-time manufacturing.

While batch manufacturing has long been the norm in the life sciences industry, many companies are moving toward the leaner just-in-time (JIT) approach. This transformation effort reduces waste and promises cost savings from lower storage overhead.

However, JIT requires accurate supply planning. We already mentioned connecting systems to historical data for better forecast accuracy, but automation can also play a major role in forecasting. For example, using a bot to automatically trigger a purchase order request when inventory levels at a pharmacy, warehouse, or clinical setting run low would mitigate some of the risks inherent in JIT manufacturing.

5. Ability to mine for supply chain process inefficiencies.

Bottlenecks in factory, transportation network, or inventory storage processes mean products get to consumers more slowly. And when you factor in regulations on price transparency, you can’t always rely on price hikes to recoup inefficiency-related losses.

Process mining can help. Process mining technology lets you analyze a workflow or process and note where bottlenecks or deviations from the target process occur. From there, you can use your findings to build solutions via the low-code development tools available in a unified, best-in-class platform. For example, you may find employees are batch uploading spreadsheets outside of an application they’re meant to be using. Based on what you learn from mining the process, you can modify your application to make it easier to work directly within the app. When you combine process mining with workflow-based design features and automation capabilities, you achieve greater efficiency that lets you get products to customers sooner and keep costs down. The right low-code platform will include strong, unified capabilities across all three areas—process mining, workflow, and automation.

Building more visibility into the life sciences supply chain.

The past few years have revealed the fragility of supply chains across industries. And the first step in creating more resilient supply chains is increasing visibility.

An enterprise-grade low-code platform can help. With the right low-code platform, you can connect disparate systems across your supply chain, discover process bottlenecks with process mining, design applications, reports, and workflows, and automate common manual tasks to save time. Most importantly, you can use these features to gain greater visibility and control over getting goods to patients and consumers. And with the pressures life sciences companies are facing right now, this could mean a significant improvement to your bottom line.

Want to learn more about how life sciences and healthcare companies can improve their supply chain management?