How 3PL Services Protect Healthcare Supply Chains

Jan 8, 2023

In 2022, the American Hospital Association reported 6,093 U.S. hospitals and more than 88,000 pharmacies in operation. Delivering daily shipments of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to these facilities is a massive logistical undertaking – and essential to the health of millions of patients each year.

Healthcare represents a growing segment of 3PL partnerships as more providers look to secure the expertise and security of logistics professionals. Here’s how 3PL services protect delicate healthcare supply chains, mitigate risks and ensure reliable deliveries to medical facilities across the country.

Avoiding disruptions to your healthcare supply chain

Keeping medical facilities stocked with essential supplies is critical to the wellbeing of thousands of patients every day. Not only must the healthcare supply chain be bulletproof – it also needs to operate at maximum efficiency all the time, as any disruption poses potentially catastrophic consequences.

An industry survey recently reported more than half of hospital staff members could recall a time when a physician didn’t have the right supplies required for a procedure, and 24% had either seen or heard a recalled/expired product used out of necessity. With lives potentially hanging in the balance, 3PL partners work tirelessly to strengthen weak points along the medical supply chain, and to keep physicians stocked with fresh supplies.

In order to establish a more reliable supply chain process, hospitals and pharmacies require the following from any potential shipping partner:

  • End-to-end visibility. Knowledge of exactly where healthcare products are helps hospitals and pharmacies predict when necessary supplies will arrive for their patients. Calculating estimated times of arrival can help them better serve those in their care, as well as determine when emergency measures might need to take place.
  • Resilience. This means being prepared for labor shortages, inclement weather, technology failures with solid contingency plans and alternate supply sources.
  • Supply chain skills and technical expertise. Utilizing the most up-to-date industry tools and technology can greatly reduce logistical snags and prevent inefficient supply management within a hospital or pharmacy. Advanced logistics tech can help anticipate empty shelves, accurately track inventory and provide real-time updates on active shipments.

Catastrophic events, economic disruptions and other unforeseeable challenges will inevitably strike at active healthcare supply chains in the future. Building a capable framework of logistical assets and expertise through a 3PL now will help medical facilities of all kinds withstand these disruptions.

3PLs are prepared to handle delicate healthcare supply chains

When it comes to handling unique supply chains, third-party logistics partners safely transport and store sensitive products by investing heavily in all the tools, technology, and assets necessary to meet unique requirements (including and especially cold chain preservation).

First Call has established the following in-house assets to support our healthcare partners’ supply chains:

  • Inventory Management. Asset-based 3PL partners equipped with cold storage and advanced warehouse management systems can react quickly to sudden bursts of demand and keep pharmacies fully stocked. By tracking how much of each product is in use, which products are running low and even which specific prescriptions still need to be refilled, First Call can help healthcare partners stay ahead of any potential supply shortage.
  • Shipment Tracking. A good 3PL grants access to the latest technology for monitoring shipments in transit without costing its partnering businesses any additional overhead.
  • Supply Chain Diversification. Just as with managing inventory, some asset-based 3PLs like First Call can keep track of individual product locations in real-time and create helpful redundancy within healthcare supply chains. This can help cut unnecessary costs and protect against supply shortages in the event of unexpected disruptions, directly benefiting patients and physicians alike.

Shipping Bulk Medical Supplies with a 3PL Partner

The right logistics provider for your medical supply shipments will already be both FDA registered and HAZMAT certified. Because so much within the healthcare industry is delicate (and/or hazardous), it’s important that everyone within your supply chain process is fully trained and compliant with the FDA’s product tracing requirements. As an extra safety measure, partners can always confirm with their state authority whether or not their chosen 3PL is, in fact, certified.

In addition to federal compliance laws, a significant amount of healthcare supplies require precision temperature-control. Entire shipments can be rejected without quality cold chain management, resulting in major financial losses and endangering patients with immediate medical needs. A good 3PL partner knows and confirms the temperature requirements for every shipment and secures any vehicles, storage space and other assets needed to protect the product.

3PLs make healthcare supply chains smoother

With a combination of industry experience and expertise, the First Call team can help ease some of the strain and concerns that often accompany healthcare supply chain management. These valuable, sometimes fragile products require patience and clear communication to help healthcare providers give their patients the care they need.

Contact First Call Logistics today and learn more about how we can help you smooth the edges of your healthcare supply chain. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Simplify your Next Shipment with First Call Logistics

Building and managing cost-efficient supply chains is a full-time job. First Call’s rare combination of in-house assets, expert problem-solving and track record of stellar customer service makes us the 3PL of choice for business partners with a wide range of shipping needs.

More Resources for FCL Shippers:

Get the latest supply chain news and updates directly to your inbox.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.