Pros & Cons of Mobile Devices for the Supply Chain

I was recently interviewed about the pros and cons of mobile/portable electronic devices for the healthcare supply chain in hospitals.  As I stated, the emphasis should really be on the whole solution, not just one component of it such as whether the device is mobile or not.  The solution is what drives the efficiency in the supply chain, and is usually a combination of sophisticated software and hardware that may be mobile/portable; however, portability is not necessarily the best hardware option in the hospital environment.  It is true that because the supply chain extends all the way to the procedure room and the patient, smart phones and tablet PCs may seem attractive due to their format and portability; however, their inherent physical limitations – namely their limited screen size – can constrain the full potential of the app or software which are really the solution’s brain.  Additionally, mobile/portable electronic devices are fragile and can get lost, damaged, dropped, or stolen more easily than other types of hardware that are less sexy but much more suitable in many ways.

I think it is a mistake to believe that the portability of the hardware is paramount.  And how about solutions that do not require human intervention, or devices that do not need to be operated by humans at all?  For instance, VueTrack-RF™ is VUEMED’s RFID inventory management solution that is completely hands-free and free of human intervention: the RFID antennas and the software do all the documentation, analyses, and reporting of supply chain events and transactions without any mobile devices.  Medical products manufacturers and hospitals are already looking into such non-human driven systems that are much more accurate, effective and efficient, as well as cheaper to maintain and scale up.