Process Mining in Healthcare: Part 1 - Revolutionizing the Supply Chain

Cost Management. Hospital cost-savings initiatives. Low-hanging fruit. One-time savings. Hospitals spend countless dollars initiating cost-savings initiatives for short-term gain. They hire consultants to come in and pick the high-cost low hanging fruit, maybe garner some short-term savings opportunities in some key areas, and then a year or less down the road, they are back into the same position again. Sound familiar?  


There are substantial savings opportunities beyond the low-hanging fruit, but how do you identify those opportunities that consultants tend not to chase?  How do you navigate all the broken processes and misused resources to address these huge chunks of opportunity? 


Hospitals face a dual challenge of delivering high-quality care, while managing their operating costs. Efficiency and cost-effectiveness are critical to accomplish this.  They require more sustainable cost-savings approaches that get deeper into their process problems.


How can we employ a sustainable initiative to identify, fix, and perpetually monitor root-causes of waste and inefficiency?


One evolving innovative approach that could enable a transformation of healthcare operations is process mining. By leveraging data, process mining can offer deep insights into the complexities of hospital processes, particularly within the supply chain.


What is Process Mining?


Process mining is a data-driven technique that extracts actionable insights from event logs generated by hospital information systems. These event logs capture every step of various processes, such as patient admissions, diagnostics, treatments, and supply chain operations. By analyzing these logs, process mining provides a clear, visual representation of actual process flows, highlighting inefficiencies, variations, and bottlenecks.


In the context of healthcare, process mining is especially powerful. It allows hospitals to move beyond assumptions and gut feelings, enabling data-driven decisions that enhance both clinical and administrative processes. This can lead to improved patient care, optimized resource utilization, and significant cost savings.


Opportunities for Process Mining in the Hospital Supply Chain


The hospital supply chain is a critical component of healthcare operations, encompassing the procurement, storage, and distribution of medical supplies, equipment, and medications. Efficient supply chain management is essential for ensuring that the right resources are available at the right time, ultimately affecting patient care quality and operational costs. The following are a few examples of some key use cases of process mining within the hospital supply chain:


Optimizing Inventory Management

Effective inventory management is crucial to prevent both shortages and excesses of medical supplies. Process mining analyzes the flow of supplies from procurement to storage and usage. By examining historical data and usage patterns, hospitals can identify trends and predict future demand more accurately. This enables them to maintain optimal inventory levels, reducing the costs associated with overstocking or emergency procurement due to shortages. Enhanced inventory management ensures that critical supplies are always available without tying up excessive capital in unused stock.


Streamlining Procurement Processes

Procurement is a complex process involving multiple steps, from requisition to order fulfillment. Process mining maps out these steps, highlighting inefficiencies such as lengthy approval times, redundant tasks, or frequent order changes. By identifying these bottlenecks, hospitals can streamline procurement workflows, reducing lead times and administrative costs. This results in faster acquisition of necessary supplies and better supplier relationships, as well as cost savings through more efficient procurement practices.


Enhancing Supplier Performance Management

Hospitals rely on a network of suppliers for various medical supplies and equipment. Process mining helps in evaluating supplier performance by analyzing delivery times, order accuracy, and compliance with contractual terms. By visualizing these metrics, hospitals can identify underperforming suppliers and negotiate better terms or seek alternative suppliers. This leads to improved reliability and cost-efficiency in the supply chain, ensuring that high-quality supplies are consistently available.


Reducing Waste and Expiration of Supplies

Medical supplies and medications have limited shelf lives, and wastage due to expiration can be a significant cost burden. Process mining tracks the lifecycle of supplies from receipt to usage, identifying areas where supplies are not being used efficiently. Hospitals can implement strategies such as first-expire, first-out (FEFO) inventory management to minimize waste. By reducing the amount of expired and unused supplies, hospitals can save costs and ensure that resources are utilized effectively.


Improving Order-to-Delivery Cycle Times

The order-to-delivery cycle involves multiple stages, including order placement, processing, shipment, and delivery. Delays in any of these stages can disrupt hospital operations and increase costs. Process mining provides a detailed view of the entire cycle, identifying delays and inefficiencies at each stage. By addressing these issues, hospitals can shorten the order-to-delivery cycle, ensuring timely availability of supplies and reducing the costs associated with expedited shipping or emergency orders.




Process mining can be a transformative tool in healthcare, offering a data-driven approach to uncover inefficiencies and optimize operations within the hospital supply chain. By providing a clear, visual representation of supply chain processes, process mining enables hospitals to make informed decisions that enhance efficiency and reduce costs.


The key use case opportunities described demonstrate the profound impact process mining can have on hospital supply chain management. Embracing process mining not only boosts operational efficiency but also ensures that hospitals can deliver high-quality patient care while maintaining cost-effectiveness.



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