What is patient logistics
Patient Logistics

What is Patient Logistics? A Primer to the New Frontier of Care Delivery

June 1, 2023
VectorCare Team

What is Patient Logistics?

The Current State of Affairs

Plenty of initiatives, such as care coordination, seek to break down silos and encourage information exchange and cooperation across the care continuum. However, these initiatives largely focus on the clinical team of physicians, nurses, and specialists surrounding the patient. We know from studies on value-based care and the social determinants of health that non-clinical operations can be just as valuable to the overall health and wellbeing of a patient.

For example:

  • Access to Care: 3.6 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE US EVERY YEAR DO NOT OBTAIN MEDICAL CARE DUE TO TRANSPORTATION ISSUES.[1] Missed appointments due to lack of access to transportation costs the US healthcare system more than $150 BILLION ANNUALLY[2].
  • Food Insecurity: Food insecurity adds $53 BILLION ANNUALLY TO HEALTHCARE COSTS[3], resulting in food-insecure adults costing $1,834 more in related healthcare costs.

In addition, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic revealed that healthcare systems that rely heavily on in-person clinical visits are unable to scale and respond quickly in times of crisis. When the doctor’s office or hospital bed became an infection hotspot, tele-health and mobile service providers became the most important pieces for continuing healthcare for many individuals. Reliable, cooperative networks of healthcare and service providers are crucial for industry transformation and to dramatically reduce healthcare expenditures.

Yet more and more, care team members’ time is wasted by repetitive, low-value tasks. Nurses may take up to 45 minutes to schedule a single service for a patient. Healthcare providers use archaic legacy technology: hard to use and built atop myopic software services that don’t talk to each other. Most healthcare providers still use the phone and fax machine to communicate with Service Providers.

And service providers—ambulance, wheelchair, DME providers and so on—must consistently worry about low margins, staying compliant, and trying to stay competitive and profitable in an increasingly tough and complex business.

All of this creates inefficiencies and saps the valuable time of frontline care team members. And despite the wealth of time being poured into scheduling and executing patient services, there’s very little data to show for it. No visibility into performance metrics, repeatable workflows, or data insights.

"Despite the wealth of time being poured into scheduling and executing patient services, there’s very little data to show for it. No visibility into performance metrics, repeatable workflows, or data insights."

This inefficiency is expensive. THE US SPENDS 50% MORE PER CAPITA ON HEALTHCARE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY, YET WASTES 25% OF ALL HEALTHCARE SPENDING[4] due to an inability to correctly allocate time.

Total annual waste in the healthcare sector is estimated to be between $760-935 billion, with $694.5 BILLION DOLLARS WASTED DUE TO POOR CARE LOGISTICS AND ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLEXITY[5].

Healthcare Waste

A New Category to Bridge the Needs of Patients and Hospitals

Enter Patient Logistics. Patient logistics aims to reduce healthcare waste and promote best practices through transparent, clear coordination & execution of ALL healthcare-related services, which saves hospitals and other medical facilities their most valuable resource: time. Simultaneously, it allows patients to be put at the center of the healthcare system, improving the quality of care and overall health of each patient affected.

Patient Logistics: Modern planning, scheduling, and execution around the delivery of healthcare services — Ultimately, anything patients need to get or stay healthy.

Patient logistics expands the patient’s care team to not only include nurses, physicians, and specialists, but also the Uber drivers, Durable Medical Equipment companies, meal delivery providers, and other service providers who contribute to the health and healing of a patient throughout their journey. It focuses on strong, healthy networks of providers across all ranges of services.

From archaic to software-powered

From siloed to collaborative

From one-off effort to repeatable

From data-poor to data-rich — and hence improvable

From limited choice to a healthy marketplace

From inscrutable to having visibility into performance

What does Patient Care Logistics look like?

Below is an example of part of a patient’s journey to wellness:

Most of these steps in the journey rely on clear collaboration with a credentialed network of local service providers. As healthcare evolves, at-home healthcare and remote healthcare services are growing in importance. It’s crucial to design healthy networks of credentialed service providers, as well as ditching the phone/fax machine in favor of data-rich, instant collaboration across technology for the execution of services.

In Conclusion

Rather than prioritizing the doctor’s office as a single point of contact for patients (provided by Care Coordination) we must shift our focus to arraying a variety of services around the patient (which is provided by Patient Care Logistics). This solution helps facilities and the patient simultaneously, while also being scalable and future-proof in a time of deep instability in healthcare.

1. "Social Determinants of Health Series: Transportation", American Hospital Association, http://www.hpoe.org/resources/ahahret-guides/3078

2. Toland, Bill. "No-shows cost health care system billions", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 23 February 2013. https://www.post-gazette.com/business/businessnews/2013/02/24/No-shows-cost-health-care-system-billions/stories/201302240381

3. Morse, Susan. "SDOH: Food insecurity adds $53 billion annually to healthcare costs", Healthcare Finance, 30 August 2019. https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/sdoh-food-insecurity-adds-53-billion-annually-healthcare-costs

4. Tikkanen, Roosa & Abrams, Melinda K. "U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes?", The CommonWealth Fund, 30 January 2020. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2020/jan/us-health-care-global-perspective-2019

5. Bauchner H, Fontanarosa PB. Waste in the US Health Care System [published online ahead of print, 2019 Oct 7] [published correction appears in JAMA. 2020 Feb 11;323(6):573].JAMA. 2019;10.1001/jama.2019.15353. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.15353