Homecare is a rapidly growing and critical component of an effective healthcare system. In the last several years, the healthcare sector has advanced significantly, creating more choices and flexibility for patients, providers, caregivers, and volunteers. These improvements reflect a shift in healthcare that impacts both hospital patients and homecare options. Providing healthcare services to patients beyond acute care was once an uncommon alternative, but has now evolved into one of the most required services necessary for patients’ well-being and healthcare effectiveness.

Homecare is cost efficient for health care providers and preferred by patients. Currently, more than two million patients in Canada require homecare for various health conditions. Technologies that improve patient satisfaction, care and quality of life and generate health system efficiencies are supporting the shift from acute care settings to the home. Specialized equipment and respective supplies (dialysis machines, heart monitors, and various infusion devices such as insulin pumps or IV pumps, etc.) need to be delivered, set up, and replenished at patients’ homes. This causes homecare product manufacturers to face multiple challenges in relation to their supply chain.

The ChallengeCase Study Dialysis
A company that provides lifesaving dialysis products to patients in the home was faced with challenge of creating a homecare supply chain for urban, rural, and remote patients.

The manufacturer wanted to make sure that their homecare equipment and supplies provided better outcomes and experiences for the patients. Therefore, their objective to deliver products on time, in a safe and uncompromised way, needed to be met with a display of high level understanding and compassion to the patient, all throughout the supply chain.

Any service quality issues have serious implications when a patient’s life is at stake. When it comes to supporting critically-ill patients, on-time delivery is crucial. Homecare patients rely on their healthcare products to be delivered to their homes on-time. Delays in the supply chain may result in discomfort, inconvenience for the patient, an increased risk to the patient’s wellbeing, or even to their lives. This may lead to dissatisfaction with the manufacturing brand, and seriously harm the manufacturer’s reputation in the market where reliability is vital and business recovery is costly.

When a patient resides far away from a central healthcare distribution centre, or where the location is inaccessible by land, the challenge is to utilize alternative modes of transportation, e.g. by air.

The sensitive nature of the products is also a challenge, as the expensive homecare equipment is very complex and can be easily damaged if handled inappropriately.

When choosing a partner for home care equipment and supplies delivery, it is essential to take into account the proficiency, network reach, and reliability of the service provider to alleviate any risks regarding the wellbeing of your patient.

The Solution
Leveraging SCI’s network and resources, the manufacturer is now servicing more than a hundred renal dialysis patients across the country. The end-to-end solution has met the difficult challenge to serve new patients by offering tailored transportation with specifically trained drivers, product set-up, and post-sales support of equipment (de-installation of equipment and swap service to replace the rare equipment). Another side of the solution is the timely replenishment of the patients’ supplies and inventory rotation (checking the product expiry date and ensuring that the medical supplies left at a patient’s home are still safe to use).

SCI’s team, training under the Health and Information Protection Act (HIPA), ensures that the patient’s information is held securely. This also includes being as discreet as possible upon delivery of products so that the patient’s health condition is kept as private as possible.

The team takes steps to pre-plan the delivery and make it as convenient to the patient as possible. Starting off with a “comfort call”, the SCI team confirms the delivery appointment with the patient 24 hours before delivery. The product is then shipped to the patient, ensuring that its integrity is protected in compliance with regulatory standards. SCI’s clients benefit from the 3PL’s national delivery network that extends beyond central cities and into remote, hard to reach areas. A patient whose residence is inaccessible by land receives the delivery by a fly-in service.

Prior to the first delivery, pre-inspection is done to determine if the driver can access the residence safely, if any logistic assistance is required, if the patient’s residence can accommodate the inventory without over stocking massive amounts in their home, etc. The delivery includes bringing the product off the truck, un-wrapping the skid, occasionally using dollies or stair-crawlers to bring the product in, and placing the product in the patient’s position of choice.

SCI’s transportation team employs different methods and equipment to deliver various types of products, from larger machines that require special lifting and positioning to smaller products that may be fragile and require gentle handling. The team is highly trained to provide service with compassion and deep understanding of the patients’ circumstances. The team is prepared to wait at the door for a longer duration of time, empathetic to the fact that the patient’s mobility may be limited. The driver’s behaviour and attitude at the patient’s residence are extremely important, as he may be one of very few people who the patient interacts with on a regular basis while being in need of homecare. SCI’s reliable, effective and compassionate approach is working for all geographic considerations.

Delivering Better Outcomes
Medical device and supplies manufacturers understand that their 3PL supply chain partner makes a direct impact on both their brand and the patient. SCI specializes in healthcare logistics and believes that quality of homecare service, cost transparency, and a compassionate team are what makes the company an excellent partner for homecare equipment and supplies manufacturers. From a warehouse worker to a truck driver delivering and installing the products, SCI’s highly-trained team always puts the patient in the centre of any solution, ultimately delivering better outcomes for the patient and the client.