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Business Intelligence v. Artificial Intelligence in the Healthcare Supply Chain

By Barry Holleman

Since the boom of big data in the late 1990s, healthcare supply chain managers have used increasingly sophisticated Business Intelligence tools to drive decisions. Today, Artificial Intelligence has emerged as the next ‘big thing’ for accessible decision support and clinical integration with supply chain operations. Where Business Intelligence collects and analyzes large amounts of business data to aid human decision-making based on what happened in the past, AI mimics how humans learn and apply judgment, while also removing biases and black boxes that tend to impede accurate forecasting.

Accessibility is key, of course. For many, the thought of implementing AI in the supply chain sounds too technical, but modern advances have removed most of the complexity involved with implementation. As Professor Amar Ramudhin, renowned industry expert and strategic advisor for MUUTAA, explains:

Artificial intelligence is not new – it was established as an academic discipline in the 1960s, and foundational neural networks have been around since the 1980s. But unlike Business Intelligence, AI has had slower uptake in industry. AI has been growing and evolving in niche areas, getting ever more sophisticated while waiting for advances in computational and data science to make it accessible in ways that improve everyday decisions. Fortunately, that day has come. The technology is here, and with the new generation of applications, hospitals and health systems no longer require internal data scientists to operationalize AI in supply chain management.  

From cloud-based AI-as-a-Service (AIaaS) and robust data integration, including medication and medical supply data libraries and data lakes – to configurable algorithms and cognitive assistants for accurate demand sensing – all these innovations and more have made AI accessible even to those whose expertise lies outside IT and engineering. Which brings us where we are today: on the brink of large-scale AI adoption in healthcare supply chains.

What is needed to move beyond that brink – to apply AI in meaningful ways that improve and clinically integrate the medical supply chain?

“It is a step change,” according to Amar Ramudhin. “The technology is very advanced, but trust in the outputs is still embryonic. Simplification, education and collaboration are important because this is a new paradigm, one that requires willingness to trust the results even if you don’t understand how those results came about in the first place.”

And, because clinically integrated supply chains are key to supporting the shift to value-based care, AI is the bridge that brings supply managers closer to consumers (namely, clinicians and patients). To enable rapid recognition and response to fluctuations in supply and demand, clinical leaders must be plugged into the process, with their input factoring into the equation alongside all other data inputs that ultimately drive better output.

If that sounds daunting, I’m sure you’ll welcome this good news: By seamlessly integrating contextualized data, artificial intelligence and simulation capabilities into the healthcare supply chain workflow, MUUTAA transforms data into informed decisions. Built specifically for the healthcare supply chain, DemandAMP+. brings all stakeholders together via comprehensive data integration and analysis, enabling supply chain decisions based on true patient-driven demand.

For a more in-depth exploration into how fit-for-purpose AIaaS for healthcare supply chains can expand and integrate your data pool, eliminate manual data collection and analysis, reduce costly supply obsolescence and supply chain waste, optimize your inventory, and improve clinical collaboration in the shift to sustainable, value-based healthcare, request a meeting with MUUTAA today.

About the author

Barry Holleman is the Chief Operating Officer and Cofounder of MUUTAA, a healthcare AI company focused on patient-driven demand for clinically integrated supply chains. With more than two decades of global healthcare technology experience, Barry specializes in healthcare supply chains, healthcare logistics and automation, health IT, and pharmacy logistics. A results-oriented leader, he has helped spearhead market adoption of innovative technologies in healthcare across the European Union and North America. To contact Barry, email barry.holleman@muutaa.com.

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