Hospitals and the healthcare industry have always been one of the most stressed within the U.S. COVID represented a danger not only because of its direct danger in infection, but because of the extra stress it put on a system that could not handle it. Shortages have risen to the point where 99% of U.S hospitals reported procurement issues in 2021.

This is reserved not only to drugs but lab supplies like pipettes alike. This makes treatment, testing, and general care much harder for hospitals. Luckily though, what is lost in shortages can be made up for, in part, with speed. Getting things where they need to be in hospitals on time is one of the greatest causes of waste.

Currently 16% of pharmaceutical inventory is wasted, and one major solution to a lot of these problems is pneumatic tube systems. Pneumatic tubing has been around since the 19th century, but what it can do in a modern context is game changing. Acting as what is effectively a subway system, carriers move from location to location with changing tracks.

This system is fast and far less prone to error. Stanford’s Children’s Hospital was able to send over 7,000 carriers in one day in 2010. The University of Iowa sends over 6,000 carriers while still managing to transfer medicine from pharmacies to hospitals and tests from hospitals to labs. These are two examples of modern and advanced systems that have really helped those locations.

These are not small changes. This can save anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes, and reduces dozens of errors over weeks and months. It’s not an all encompassing change, things like shortages will still be very hard to overcome, but it does represent a real solution. Less drugs will be wasted, more time will be saved, and workers will carry out higher quality work with less stressors.


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