Hospital Logistics is a set of activities that involves managing supplies, materials, equipment, medicines, waste and beds in hospitals, ensuring that the necessary resources are available at the right time and in the right quantity. Its processes are necessary to ensure that supplies are stored correctly and that waste is disposed of appropriately, avoiding ‘Mudas’ (or waste, in LEAN language), delays and interruptions in patient care. It is a combination of science and art, requiring both technical skills and the creativity and flexibility to deal with unpredictable situations and ensure that patients receive the best possible care.

In essence, it is an activity that must be carried out in an exact and, to a certain extent, military manner, from the point of view of the need for precision and reliability. Throughout the logistics chain, we may come across situations such as products with limited shelf lives that require special storage conditions; loss or misplacement of products can occur at any stage of the chain; lack of transparency and difficulties in product traceability; the need to respond quickly to emergency situations and limited budgets for procurement and supply management.

It is therefore necessary to understand the processes, establish guidelines and execute them with a view to maximum efficiency in the provision of services to patients, generating savings and eliminating Mudas throughout the chain. We will see that eliminating Mudas reduces costs, while at the same time promoting improvements in the services provided, creating a balance between patient satisfaction and the rational use of available resources.

In this article, we first present some trends applicable to the area, such as materials and supply management, which involves identifying needs, defining technical specifications, negotiating with suppliers, planning purchases, receiving, storing, controlling stock and distributing materials. Each stage must be carried out accurately and efficiently, guaranteeing product quality and patient safety.

Hospital waste management is also a constant concern in hospital logistics. The waste generated in hospitals is classified according to its risk potential and must be segregated, packaged, transported and disposed of properly, in accordance with environmental standards and regulations.

It also includes bed management, stock control of medicines and the monitoring of performance indicators. These processes are essential for guaranteeing the availability of resources and the efficiency of the services provided.

With technological developments, hospital logistics has undergone major changes. Computerized systems, automation and robotics are increasingly being used to optimize processes and increase efficiency in the management of materials, medicines and beds.

The importance of hospital logistics

One of its main advantages is cost reduction. Efficient stock management, for example, avoids unnecessary or erroneous purchases and ensures that the necessary materials and supplies are available at the right time, attesting to the quality of the services provided, just as the availability of suitable materials and equipment avoids delays and interruptions in patient care. Medicines management ensures that the right medicines are available at the right time, avoiding administration errors and guaranteeing the effectiveness of treatment (related to patient safety). Proper waste management ensures that contaminated materials are disposed of properly, avoiding risks to public health.

The availability of adequate and well-equipped beds provides quality services and avoids overcrowding in hospitals, which can compromise the quality of care.
In the context of healthcare, waste can occur at various points, such as stock management, the distribution of medicines and materials, waste management, equipment management, among others. In addition, waste can have a negative impact on the quality of care and patient safety, and it is possible to identify critical points of waste and implement measures to reduce or eliminate them. For example, the use of computerized stock management systems can enable more precise control of the medicines and materials needed, avoiding unnecessary purchases and product expiration dates. Efficient waste management can enable a reduction in material waste and the adoption of sustainable practices.

In addition, it can optimize the distribution processes for medicines and materials, enabling faster delivery and avoiding delays and losses. Proper management of equipment can ensure that it is used correctly and safely, preventing it from sitting idle or being damaged by misuse.

Operations that don’t add value, in general, are those that don’t bring benefits to the patient, such as delays in the delivery of medicines and materials, stock management failures and a lack of organization in the care areas. These operations waste time and resources, which can negatively affect the quality of care and patient satisfaction.

With its application, unnecessary operations can be identified and eliminated, allowing medical staff and healthcare professionals (pharmacists and nurses) to focus on the activities that really matter. For example, efficient stock management can ensure that the necessary medicines and materials are always available, avoiding delays and interruptions in care.

In addition, it can optimize the flow of patients and the distribution of resources, allowing for greater agility and efficiency in care, through the use of technologies and information systems, where it is possible to monitor and manage the entire care process, from triage to patient discharge.

Another advantage is the reduction in operating costs. By eliminating operations that don’t add value, hospitals can reduce their expenditure on resources and labor, allowing these resources to be redirected to activities that bring real benefits to patients.

In short, hospital logistics is an extremely important area for ensuring the smooth running of hospitals and healthcare facilities. The efficient management of supplies, materials, equipment, medicines, waste and beds is a point of attention for reducing costs, the quality of the services provided and patient safety, including the control of Muda and improving management efficiency by eliminating operations and activities that don’t add value to the processes and the hospital.

The role of the pharmacist in hospital logistics

The pharmacist is responsible for ensuring the availability of the medicines needed to treat patients, assessing and guaranteeing quality, as well as providing information and guidance on their proper use to other health professionals and patients.

As the person responsible for each and every drug that enters the hospital, the pharmacist must understand the entire logistics chain to ensure that the whole process meets legal requirements and manage stock, which includes carrying out inventories, monitoring stock levels and scheduling replenishment efficiently, ensuring that it is stored properly and safely in order to preserve its quality and effectiveness.

They must familiarize themselves with the hospital’s procedures and exercise due diligence and professionalism in carrying out their duties. The acronym ASIP (Ask, Seek, Inform, and Participate) is used to help the pharmacist minimize errors in the medicines supply chain and promote open communication between all parties, the patient, healthcare professionals and the community. As a qualified professional, you are supported by the hospital’s pharmacy department and are a member of the hospital’s Quality and Standardization Committee, whose purpose is to ensure that operations continue to follow safety and efficiency standards, and you may be asked to make decisions regarding the safe supply of medicines in terms of the use of controlled drugs. You are part of the hospital’s interprofessional team and will give advice to patients about the medicines prescribed, and as such, you have a duty to ensure that the patient has the best possible quality of care, which includes Pharmaceutical Care.

Its ultimate goal is to provide the highest quality of patient care.