AI and machine learning in hospital supply chain solutions

The technology industry is getting steadily better at training computers to fetch information, respond to simple everyday commands, and streamline our work and our daily lives. Think about the Netflix algorithms that recommend what you should watch next, or the mapping apps that automatically calculate travel time to your common destinations. This kind of automation is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) and it also has the potential to dramatically change hospital inventory management.


For example, machine learning and AI can be used to combine demographic data about a hospital’s patient population with supply chain algorithms to influence the way clinicians and supply chain staff order supplies, such as artificial joints.


And then, there’s the case of physician preference cards. AI can improve the effectiveness of preference cards in the OR by tracking what each physician actually uses during specific procedures rather than simply reordering supplies based on outdated preference information. Ultimately, this could eliminate the need for preference cards altogether, reduce healthcare waste, and streamline the work of healthcare inventory management.


To take the idea a step further, factoring in patient demographic before a procedure such as a knee replacement could allow the algorithms in hospital inventory management software to suggest supplies based on key physiological factors of the patient. Those supplies can then show up in an order forecast for the clinicians, insuring physicians have what they need for the procedure. Applied correctly, machine learning and AI can help hospitals improve forecasting and item standardization, which can ultimately lead to significant savings.


Training AI to do everything we want it to without any glitches is still a work in progress. Google Maps, for example, still sometimes tries to send me across the country when I just want to go across town. But in the future, look for hospital supply chain solutions to increasingly use AI and machine learning to deliver real-time, reliable data that will help health systems predict more accurate supply utilization.

Read more about this topic from Jump Technologies CEO John Freund in an article on the future of supply chain in Healthcare Purchasing News.