How Technology Is Transforming Medical Logistics


Technology has already made significant advancements across the entire logistics industry. But in no area have these innovations been more important than in medical logistics. Sophisticated technology uses in medical logistics has helped to streamline processes, reducing errors, delays, and inefficiencies, and securing timely, safe deliveries of vital medical supplies.

Below are just some of the ways that technology is transforming the medical logistics supply chain and how further advances will change the future.

Warehouse automation

One way that technology is improving medical logistics is in the warehouse. Automation has helped to streamline and optimise processes in the supply chain, using robotics for automated sorting and retrieval to expand capabilities and reduce costs.

Warehouse automation has been a vital innovation in areas where there have been labour shortages, helping to pick up the slack and keep productivity levels high. Robotics and automation have been shown to complement worker output, keeping the more physically demanding tasks to a minimum so staff can focus their efforts elsewhere. Automation has also helped to reduce human error and keep processes precise and fast, which is of utmost importance in the medical logistics supply chain.

Advanced tracking systems

In previous years, tracking packages through the supply chain merely meant that we could identify the approximate location of a package and where it was in the supply chain, i.e., in the warehouse or out for delivery. But now, tracking systems utilise technology to give exact locations and real-time updates. This means that every vital package can be accounted for and will never go missing.

Radio Frequency Identification has been an important part of innovation in tracking. This technology allows for automatic identification and tracking of individual packages where required, meaning critical medical equipment and/or medication can be traced, followed, and accounted for.

Cold chain logistics management

Temperature-controlled shipping is important in many areas of medical logistics. It means that important medication and other medical provisions can be appropriately stored and transported, so it can maintain its effectiveness.

Advances in technology have meant that it is now easier than ever to keep vital medication at the required temperature throughout its journey. Real-time monitoring means that any fluctuation in temperature can be accounted for and adjusted, using precise sensors to keep consignments at the exact required temperature.

Technology has also helped to innovate cold chain packaging. Instead of having to rely on ice packs to keep medical supplies at the right temperature, vacuum-insulated packaging and phase change materials can both help with thermal management. These can both maintain the right temperate and have the added benefit of taking up less space, so consignments can be optimised.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence has been taking great steps to improve efficiencies across the entire medical logistics supply chain. Algorithms powered by AI can help with route planning, finding the best route to avoid delays by analysing current and historical local data. This has been a vital development when it comes to time-sensitive deliveries.

AI has also been essential in enhancing processes throughout the supply chain, by analysing metrics and looking for improvements in areas such as inventory management, equipment maintenance and delivery times. This has all been important in keeping the supply chain working efficiently and keeping patients safe.

Drone delivery

Drone delivery is no longer just a theory. We are already seeing how drones are making a difference in the real world. Drones have the benefit of being able to avoid traffic and access hard-to-reach areas, meaning medical supplies can always be delivered when and where they are required. They have been crucial in making deliveries of vital medical supplies in remote areas where transport infrastructure is lacking or to medical professionals who are on the move. They can also be used in busy urban areas, where time-sensitive deliveries are needed, cutting down waiting times.

Drone delivery technology is continuously being developed, meaning there will be even more uses in the future. It’s believed that drones could be used for organ transfers, providing a fast and safe method for transporting vital organs. It’s also thought that drones could have a use for delivering small medical devices, such as automated external defibrillators, to locations where there has been an accident or disaster, bringing potentially life-saving equipment to where it is needed quickly.

Electric vehicles

It’s important that technological advancements in medical logistics also factor in sustainability. This is where we see developments such as electric vehicles come into play. We have already seen many medical logistics companies move towards an electric fleet and reap the benefits of this, with lower fuel and maintenance costs and less impact on the environment.

As more innovations are made in electric vehicles, we’re sure to see an increasing range and efficiency, as well as better infrastructure across routes, making recharging fast and simple. With the right investment, the medical supply chain can switch to electric vehicles while maintaining and even improving reliability and speed.