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From College Kids on Caffeine to Smartphones and Wi-Fi, Telemedicine evolves

To earn money as a struggling college student in the 1980’s, I took a night-shift job at the local hospital as a ‘monitor tech’ in the Intensive Care Unit.

Armed only with massive amounts of caffeine and very rudimentary training in what bad ECG cardiac rhythms look like, I spent my nights watching a row of heartbeat monitors for 24 hospital patients. I was given three standing orders:

  1. Don’t fall asleep.
  2. If anything changes in a patient’s heart rhythm try to print off a paper strip of it for the physicians to take a look at in the morning.
  3. If any of the rhythms changed to either very smooth waves or a completely flat line scream for a nurse.

That second responsibility proved to be the most challenging, because the monitors didn’t have the ability to pause or rewind. Catching the anomalies that the physicians wanted to see required gunfighter reflexes to physically get to the right monitor and hold down the print button hoping that the troubling rhythm was still on the screen so that it would show up on the paper slip.

Being jacked up on caffeine did help with the reaction time, though I was a jittery mess in class the next morning. Good times.

Do you know what physicians do now when they want to see their patients’ cardiac rhythms?  Many of them pull out their smart phones. Modern cardiac monitors are intelligent, autonomous, and wi-fi enabled. They can assess and interpret patient rythyms far better than I ever could, and they never fall asleep.

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Temperature Excursions and Your Meds: Why Packaging Matters
temperature controlled

Last summer it seemed like the media reports of record-breaking temperatures, wildfires and droughts were never-ending. And like farmers and ski resort managers, heat and cold are of particular interest to me because of my role at UPS as a temperature-sensitive packaging professional.

Keeping medicines at the right temperature is essential if they are to work well, and it’s vital to the health of patients. Whether you need an annual flu shot or your regular supply of insulin, it’s likely that a great deal of work has gone into designing the packaging it’s shipped in. Packaging may be the only protection that stands between your medicine and the outside world, from the manufacturer to the point of care, whether that’s a doctor’s office, an outpatient surgery center or even your own home. In fact, a recent UPS survey investigating healthcare supply chain challenges found that product protection is one of the biggest challenges healthcare manufacturers face.

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Forget Your Meds? – There’s an App (or Vending Machine) for That!

What if I told you that one of the most prevalent reasons for an unsuccessful course of drug therapy isn’t due to what’s in the pill bottle, but what’s on the pill bottle? It’s an unopened lid. As a nation we have an epidemic of ‘not taking what we were prescribed in the prescribed dosage.’ And like any epidemic, it has serious consequences.

Every year, prescription medication non-adherence (not taking medication at the right time, dosage, or simply not taking it at all) is responsible for more than 120,000 unnecessary patient deaths and $290 billion in unnecessary healthcare spending each year in the United States.

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Webinar Today: Technology Innovation in Healthcare Supply Chain Management

Successful supply chains cohesively address the connected flows of goods, funds, and information. New tools and technology for the management of logistics detail and data are producing quantifiable business improvements for leading healthcare corporations.

To be efficient, you want to maintain control over the services that keep your business running – orders to billing – but need help managing the day-to-day tasks. That means supervising orders, inventory and customer service, for facilitating compliance and on-time deliveries, and for expediting invoicing and speeding payment.

During this webinar, Jen Trone, sector development manager of UPS Healthcare, will discuss how you can create a cohesive supply chain, capture market share, and respond quickly to market demands. Participants will learn how UPS Order To Cash® can help them meet the customer demands and improve overall supply chain performance.

Click here to register for the May 2 webinar at 11:00 a.m. ET.

Individually Tailored Medicine – One Size Does Not Fit All!

“Medicine sometimes snatches away health, sometimes gives it”

– Ovid, Tristia, Book II

In Tristia the Roman poet Ovid noted a healthcare challenge that is as true in our age as it was in his – medicine can affect different people differently. While they lack the eloquence and poetry of Ovid, every pharmaceutical advertisement says much the same thing, citing both the beneficial and adverse effects that a patient may experience. Most will benefit, some may experience no improvement, and a small percentage may experience an unintended side effect.

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The perfect match: UPS brings CEMELOG into its global healthcare family
purple viles

As a part of UPS’s global healthcare growth strategy, UPS announced today that it will acquire Hungarian pharmaceutical logistics company, CEMELOG. Based outside of Budapest, CEMELOG has been offering customers across central and eastern Europe tailor-made healthcare logistics solutions for over a decade, and serves some of the most recognized healthcare brands in the world. The acquisition will further strengthen UPS’s healthcare presence in Europe with regional expertise and services. It also will add three new facilities to UPS’s dedicated global healthcare network, bringing our total number of healthcare facilities to 41.  Watch this video with Bill Hook, VP of global strategy, UPS Healthcare Logistics to learn more:

What Keeps Healthcare Executives Up at Night

Today’s healthcare executive faces the most increasingly complex regulatory environment seen since the enactment of Medicare in 1965.  In addition to federal standards, they must comply with state regulations and the regulations for each country in which their company conducts business. Considering the scope and range of the fast changing healthcare regulatory environment – is it any wonder healthcare executives lose sleep over regulatory compliance?

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EndoChoice & 3 Keys to Growth: People. Products. Logistics. [Video]

One cool thing about working at UPS is the chance to learn about the many different types of companies we serve, and how their supply chains factor into their success.  Healthcare companies are some of the most interesting: they make products that patients’ lives may literally depend on, and their supply chain needs can be quite specialized and complex. It can be pretty radical stuff!

To see what I’m talking about, check out this video profiling UPS customer EndoChoice Inc., “a platform technology company providing devices, diagnostics and procedural support for specialists treating a wide range of gastrointestinal (GI) diseases.” Talk about specialization! EndoChoice has been on the Inc. 500 list for the past three years, and CEO Mark Gilreath has some nice insights on how logistics was one key to their rapid growth.

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The Logistics of Saving Lives: Keeping Cool Through a Challenging Delivery (Video)
UPS PharmaPort 360 shipment

The flu season is fast approaching here in North America and the call to stand in line, roll up your sleeve and get your annual flu shot is ringing across UPS – and across the country.  And, yes, I got my shot last week. Glad that’s over with!

Back in April, Walgreens donated more than 375,000 doses of flu vaccine to the Laos People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), when their flu season was just getting ready to begin. They wanted to make a difference in thousands of lives by bringing good health to a population in need. Walgreen’s faced an enormous logistical challenge to safely transport the vaccines from Louisville, Kentucky, to Southeast Asia.

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Cut to the Chase: 2012 Pain in the (Supply) Chain Survey
purple viles

E-mail is a funny thing.  The cadence of my workday is set by it, and I have made a game out of getting things out of my inbox as soon as possible.  I prefer to leave at the end of the day with less than 100 e-mails in my inbox, because I treat it as my to-do list.

A project manager with whom I frequently work (and subsequently send a lot of detailed e-mails to) finally just came right out with it: “I’m a scanner.  If you want me to read something, don’t put a lot of text in it.  Just bullet it out for me.”

So, for all you scanners out there, here’s a high-level look at what we found out from our fifth annual Pain in the (Supply) Chain survey.

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