In healthcare, efficiency not only reduces costs but can also save the lives of patients. Solving all of the logistical issues in a supply chain is a fundamental part of this, with final mile challenges being the cause of some of the most significant problems. Learn more about what healthcare’s final mile challenge is, how it affects healthcare and some steps towards a solution.

What is healthcare’s final mile challenge, and how does it affect the NHS?

Healthcare’s final mile challenge directly relates to the final logistical hurdle that a lot of organisations must deal with. The “final mile” describes the final stage of a delivery’s journey from a logistics hub to a final destination. This stage causes significant issues for the NHS, with healthcare organisations taking in a vast number of deliveries from multiple suppliers every single day.

Kevin Sample, Senior Product Manager at Elcom, also noted further issues when balancing logistics and the current issue of sustainability. He asked, “how can the healthcare sector address its own sustainability issues and ‘go green’?”, a legitimate concern for large-scale enterprises and state bodies around the world. Inefficient logistics are not only ineffective for the companies relying on them, but for the wider world around us too.

What are the challenges caused by final mile delivery?

Final mile delivery is the cause of many specific challenges in logistics, with organisations having to respond quickly and competently to any emerging concerns. Some of the main challenges that are caused by final mile delivery include:

Higher expenses

The last stages of delivery can be some of the most expensive in the process. It costs more to complete a hundred small deliveries to individual homes and businesses, as a delivery driver needs to navigate from place to place to drop off the goods. These higher expenses transfer down to the end client, applying even more pressure to the logistics departments of NHS Trusts.

Unpredictable deliveries

Where early-stage logistics involve delivery in bulk from hub to hub, final mile logistics are far less predictable. Issues like drivers being ill or lorries breaking down can lead to a break in the supply chain, with poor delivery infrastructure increasing the risk of these issues. The NHS is especially vulnerable to this, with the goods delivered being potentially life-saving for patients.

Lack of tracking

Even if a delivery gets to your door according to plan, this doesn’t necessarily reduce all inefficiencies. If an organisation doesn’t properly track deliveries, drivers can be waiting a long time to sign off on goods, making deliveries later in the route take even longer. Whilst this is rarely an issue for large NHS buildings, small pharmacies often struggle with late deliveries.

How to solve final mile delivery concerns

There are a few ways to solve final mile delivery issues, with platforms such as Elcom’s DistributIN providing an effective framework. Organisations track their stock over time, use real-time notifications to understand where deliveries are and automate aspects of the logistics process such as procurement. Many of the issues that exist in final mile delivery come down to human error, and artificial intelligence-based solutions help to remove this.

Staff members still need to work with these systems, and organisations can further improve performance by providing a high level of training on any new platforms. By completing training courses and attending webinars, the risk of human error reduces even further as staff are using the company’s systems in a more informed way. Combining the right solutions with staff that know how to use them makes final mile delivery just another stage in a logistics chain.

What benefits does DistrubutIN offer?

DistributIn offers several benefits to organisations, including a reduction of overstocking, fewer re-orders due to errors, and a decrease in emergency deliveries. By reducing the need for overnight deliveries for lost items and reducing the time wasted searching for deliveries, barcode, photographic and signatory evidence helps to locate deliveries easily.

Additionally, DistributIn ensures internal teams know when and where goods are delivered, resulting in a more seamless experience. DistributIn can also provide real-time stock delivery notifications, using the organisation’s own network to ensure updates are timely. Finally, DistributIn can increase delivery efficiencies by planning routes and delivery rounds to help R&D staff complete their deliveries as efficiently as possible.


  • Carolina Duran

    Carolina Duran, VP of Marketing at ELCOM, joined ELCOM in May 2016 to lead the company's marketing team and implement a robust and efficient strategy to secure brand positioning and growth in the UK and internationally. ELCOM is a global Supply Chain Technology Provider which praised itself for making procurement smarter, more connected, and transparent.

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