Last mile logistics in the healthcare industry is often underappreciated, despite its role in providing numerous life-saving drugs that save millions of lives. Indeed, strong logistics capabilities are key for ensuring that healthcare and medical products are accessible around the world—and, particularly in the last few years, the importance of managing healthcare deliveries efficiently has become painfully obvious.
Of course, medical and healthcare delivery processes can be quite costly. The last mile in medical supplies is typically made more expensive especially by a number of different challenges:
- Shortage of skilled and specialized drivers
- Vehicle capacity constraints
- Traffic constraints
- Cold chain requirements
- Lack of visibility over logistics and transportation
- Sudden increase of on-demand deliveries
- Compliance requirements for distribution to various areas
Luckily, companies can overcome these challenges with advanced delivery management software that enables them to dependably deliver at the right time. The right software can be a useful tool in enhancing productivity and overall efficiency across the supply chain supply chain. Here's how the right solution helps pharmaceutical and medical delivery services companies:
End-to-End, Real-Time Visibility
Real-time visibility is crucial for last mile deliveries—especially in transporting medical goods. Logistics here can involve expensive costs due to required refrigerated trucks, special storage and temperature control measures, and much more. Medical delivery companies must invest in technological tools to achieve end-to-end visibility and cut down costs.
This isn’t just a nice-to-have, and it’s not just for temperature-sensitive products. When you can understand your delivery operations at a glance and drill down to details as needed, you’re in a position to be more strategic and work towards more efficient plans and better execution.
Likewise, when you can monitor your drivers and vehicles in real-time, you can work towards minimizing delays in deliveries. Plus, real-time monitoring of drivers enables you to receive useful insights on driver's performance and behavior such as idling, number of breaks, active period, etc. All this gives fleet managers better control of delivery operations—which can boost efficiency and customer satisfaction across the entire logistics process.
Flexibility in Medical Delivery Services
Modern businesses must offer flexible delivery options to customers, and medical delivery enterprises are no exception. Providing consumers with more flexible delivery schedules often leads to higher customer satisfaction scores and more repeat business.
Unfortunately, many enterprises are unable to provide flexible delivery options because they are still using conventional route planning methods involving pen, paper, and spreadsheets or legacy routing technology that lacks easy tools for adjusting routes. Cloud-based, AI-powered route optimization software allows companies to offer more flexibility for customers, which is why it’s an increasingly crucial part of the medical delivery services technology stack.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of flexibility in this field in particular. A nursing home may need to have supplies delivered on specific time windows since they have limited personnel to accept deliveries. A pharmacy might need an unexpected restock of a crucial product. When situations like this come up, you want to be able to accommodate your customers needs without a herculean effort at replanning.
The right route optimization solution can help companies streamline delivery operations so they can offer fast and flexible delivery options. By calculating the most cost-efficient and fastest routes automatically, smart technology can enable drivers to cover more stops within their shifts.
Reduced Unnecessary Costs
There are a ton of cost factors that make healthcare deliveries particularly expensive in many cases. Storage needs for refrigerated goods vary from non-refrigerated ones. Some goods and medical supplies need trucks with controlled temperatures, thermal blanketing, temperature monitoring and other sensors, etc. These costs add up, and they can make your overall logistics processes more expensive.
To comply with regulations and deliver at the right time, enterprises must ensure that drivers take the most efficient possible routes. Even the smallest delivery delays and deviation from the required storage settings can negatively affect the quality of the goods being transported.
Here, the ability to accurately predict ETAs is paramount. Note that this is a separate question from the ability to generate a route that’s efficient in terms of mileage: if your drivers don’t have enough time to make it to and from each delivery site on the route, you’ll wind up with disruptions and late deliveries across the board. To make sure your ETAs are accurate, you need to account for not just drive time but service time, differences in driver speed, historical traffic patterns, and more—all of which requires the introduction of AI and machine learning into the process.
Having a route optimization solution allows companies to cut down costs by finding the most cost-effective and fastest routes. The right software also helps businesses cope with last minute deliveries by rapidly adjusting routes and finding the best available driver for the job.
Skill and Capacity Matching
Many medical delivery service companies will need to recruit drivers who are familiar with the requirements and storage requirements of sensitive goods. Unfortunately, the trucking industry is facing driver shortage problems, and healthcare companies aren’t immune. Thus, there is a higher demand for specialized and experienced drivers who can manage any issues of transporting pharmaceutical products and medical supplies.
You may also have to deal with truck capacity constraints that make driver and truck assignments more complex for dispatchers and fleet managers. This is where the right delivery management technology comes in. When you can automatically assign drivers, vehicles, and equipment—taking into consideration constraints like driver skill, traffic, vehicle capacity, driver affinity, and more—you can streamline the entire delivery process without losing out on efficiency in the field or in the back office.
New technological tools such as route optimization and delivery management software are helping businesses to more effectively serve customers who need medicines and medical-related supplies. The software also enables medical delivery companies to cut down labor, fuel, and other costs and deal with the perennial problem of the driver shortage. This makes a robust last mile optimization software an invaluable tool in ensuring successful and cost-effective medical supplies deliveries.
Learn How DispatchTrack Helps Power Up Customer Service in the Healthcare Deliveries: Read the Vision Logistics Case Study