Healthcare Logistics Focus on Patient SafetyTue, 09/06/2016 - 16:54
Q: What challenges are you facing as the new CEO of BOMI de Mexico?
A: There are several challenges in the healthcare and life sciences sector in Mexico that no company has been able to fulfill. For instance, big companies are oftentimes limited by their own corporate processes and there are potential customers that are not their typical target because they do not have the required qualifications or certifications. However, there are many things to be done to be closer to the patient and end-users while reducing the cost of healthcare. There are still many inefficiencies along the overall supply chain that could be improved for patients and healthcare companies and this is exactly what BOMI aims to solve. We want to bring the industry closer to patients and clinics and solve some of the industry’s complexity to ease things for manufacturers and patients.
Q: What are your plans to become a more relevant player in the healthcare industry?
A: We have two parallel lines of action to achieve this. We are looking for additional growth by several added value services that distinguish us from our competitors and allow us to target additional customers while making the logistics process more efficient. We are the only logistics company in Mexico focused 100 percent on the healthcare industry – with its own fleet, drivers, certified trucks, certified cold chain and certified packaging. This allows us to widen our market share. Cold chain is a big opportunity as it has several milestones that are not fully tracked and controlled and which could represent a threat for patient safety. We are identifying how we can ensure that drugs are delivered to the recipient at the right temperature. The other line of action is developing new products and services the market requires. We are listening to laboratories, marketers, clinicians, to understand what the gaps are so we can improve, be more efficient and take their brand and sales to the next level. We are coming up with new solutions with their input – not only reducing overall costs, which is the main issue for third-party logistics (3PL) but understanding what needs to be done differently. We are reaching new locations our competitors cannot warrant a visit due to a low number of clinics and low volumes. For instance, it is very expensive for medical devices companies to service the southeast of Mexico but by bringing them together we can make things more efficient and make sure we can get there faster and cheaper. Clinics could start providing some specialized services there and patients would no longer need to travel 400 kilometers to have a surgery.
Q: What role should logistics providers play to actually put patients at the center of the healthcare system?
A: Patients are at the center of BOMI’s operations. They are what we live for and our slogan is “Saving and Improving Lives”. This is not about moving cases in warehouses, healthcare logistics are more difficult, so our checkpoint system is robust and identifies errors allowing us to service customers in a timely manner. A patient who has to get his or her monthly dose cannot skip his medication because of logistic mistakes so that has to be part of the culture of the organization, working to serve patients the best we can. We cannot be 99 percent accurate, 1 percent of inaccuracy is unacceptable. We have to ensure this 1 percent is covered by our backup processes before they occur.
Q: How could integral services be further improved and regulated?
A: I truly believe that everything has room for improvement not because things are wrong but because of evolution. Integral services cover some gaps at clinics, which are the point where end consumers receive the products and these facilities are not only managing supplies, they manage lives. Therefore, clinics need to partner with companies that can take full responsibility of materials and supplies and ensure lower costs, maintain minor inventories and ontime deliveries. Integral services to clinics, hospitals and laboratories will become more regulated on quality and compliance, and this needs to be reinforced in the entire value chain. As new clinics providing subrogated services open they must have the right licenses and comply with all requirements to operate guaranteeing patient safety.
Discussions about the cost structure of integral services at clinics are not that relevant because in the end no manufacturer discloses how much it is charging for a certain active compound or material in the medication they commercialize, which is also true for healthcare services. Instead, costs become more important when they are charging lower prices for something that is not certified. Buyers need to question if some part of the delivered drugs come directly from the manufacturer and if some could be counterfeit. Serialization and pedigree for drugs and medical devices can reduce these risks. There have been several efforts to develop and implement regulations for serialization in countries such as the US and Brazil but they are still a work in process. When this becomes reality several players could leave the market due to the lack of compliance. Yet I am sure BOMI is ahead of the curve. We are the only logistics provider certified with ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 in the healthcare industry.
Q: What led BOMI to win the National Award of Logistics?
A: We were not doing home deliveries for dialysis in the past but we started doing it with a new customer and evolved from there. Therefore, we had to implement a new process, service and scheduling to make sure every patient was getting his or her monthly kit for dialysis. This not only means ensuring patients get their kit but also having a highly flexible agenda as every month new patients receive the kit while others pass away. Some are located in remote areas, which makes it more challenging. We literally had to put kits on boats and horses to reach some patients so we were the first 3PL to achieve thorough integral service from start to end.
Public healthcare institutions are not able to reach all the patients directly and that is why they are subrogating services. Even so not all patients are being reached. Remote and low income regions also require healthcare and we should develop a better structure for subrogation to reach them.
Q: What does BOMI offer through its business intelligence solutions?
A: Today customers want information and visibility about what they are getting and the need to get realtime information is increasing significantly. This is why we have a web platform on which our customers can track the shipment in a mobile app that allows for the creation of digital signatures and picture taking of their shipment. We allow customers the possibility to visualize what is going on inside the warehouse. They have access to a webpage where they can access information about our quality system, track our processes and procedures for compliance, know how inventories are being handled, follow preventive and corrective actions and so on. We also have an e-learning tool used by each of our employees when a new process is implemented and it stores training records. In the past, only providers could know about their own operations.
BOMI is completely focused on healthcare and our main differentiator is that we do not replicate operations and knowledge from other sectors. Patients are what we live for and we want to make sure that our services are a valuable part of the chain. Helping the system to provide better healthcare services is also our mission and we are determined to keep on growing with this in mind. Most companies have more challenges to face than the year before. From the exchange rate pressure in finished goods to raw materials, we have to work with our customers in order to do more with less. Another differentiator is that at a corporate level, big companies have a lots of processes coming from headquarters and we do not have all those guidelines that sometimes become obstacles. To deliver bottom line results, you need to be fast and flexible. Our team is ready to make things happen and quickly start a new operation with procedures that are well defined but flexible at the same time, so we are leaner and faster.