Transportation When Life is on the Line
Have you ever been in a hospital waiting room and wondered where all the equipment and supplies come from and how they got there? Making sure that everything is in its place requires precise supply chain planning, especially when lives are on the line.
When my local coffee shop is out of “grande” cups, I deal with it. But what if I’m in a hospital and they are out of critical supplies or equipment? That’s unacceptable and it’s why having the right transportation partner to handle your shipments, sensitive or not, is critical to running your operation.
Medical suppliers regularly tell me that they need service, professionalism, and hands-on delivery. What they really want is an easy button. What does this mean? With sensitive deliveries, it is essential that trust, transparency, and open communication is established at the first stage in the process.
Imagine a driver showing up for your delivery late, wearing a T-shirt and cargo shorts, smoking a cigarette. Then the driver asks you to help unload. This is a classic case of you get what you pay for. If you push the cheapest price or fail to establish expectations up front, you won’t get a positive outcome.
Here’s where white-glove delivery service is crucial. Medical devices and supplies are delivered to hospitals, labs, urgent cares, and healthcare facilities. These are not typically warehouses with forklifts and supply chain personnel. And medical equipment often carries a value of several hundred thousand dollars.
Expedited carriers typically offer white-glove service for fragile or sensitive items that need special care and handling. Drivers may even help load and unload to prevent breakage and reduce damaged freight.
When scheduling pickup and/or delivery times as specific as a two-hour window, time-sensitive shipping ensures that goods are delivered under the required parameters and reduces the long-term costs associated with missed deadlines and lost products.
Shipments often require a pre-call to a contractor or installation crew. Timing is critical in order to execute, so that medical professionals can properly service their patients.
Here are three steps healthcare buyers investigating partnerships with logistics/supply chain providers should consider.
1. Know your partner and how they operate.
Vet providers and select those with experience handling medical devices and supplies. Go deeper during the discovery phase: Ask how they vet their drivers, carriers, and contracted partners. Insurance is important as well. Ask your providers how they process claims. The industry standard for cargo insurance is $100k. Is this enough to support your business?
2. Build an SOP for alignment.
Besides trust, another important piece of the discovery phase is working together to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) to support and meet business expectations.
Most companies are hyper-focused on minimizing cost, but they should evaluate their products and services appropriately so that they don’t have to cut corners and sacrifice service by partnering with the cheapest 3PL or carrier. Pick a provider that you trust and establish an SOP where all parties are aligned with pickup, in-transit, and delivery expectations.
3. Gain stakeholder buy-in during onboarding.
Bring all stakeholders into the onboarding process, and provide the opportunity for them to have candid conversations, express concerns, and set expectations. It is also important to have a health-check call at the 60-90 day mark to give all parties a chance to refine and improve a new partnership.
In the end, it’s more profitable to create a healthy balance of price with service and avoid additional back-end costs resulting from poor service.