Insider Business Journal

Insider Business Journal
Volume 5, Number 19

Optimize urgent health care pickups/deliveries. High dependence by hospitals on outside couriers. Hospital fleet vehicles underutilized. Excessive driver overtime. Too much time spent on route planning.

SaTech Inc. of Bloomfield Hills offers solutions to these problems. "We provide field management services and retail logistics for the effective planning, implementation and management of the day-to-day delivery of products and services for home medical equipment and other industries," said Sadler, president of SaTech.

According to Sadler, SaTech typically enables its clients to obtain 10-30 percent cost reductions and realize a four-to-six month ROI when its tools and processes are applied. Huron Valley Hospital, through parent organization Detroit Medical Center (DMC) in Detroit, is one local hospital benefiting from these services. DMC has 24 daily routes servicing member hospitals, clinics for lab routes, non-laboratory routes (paper deliveries), STAT routes and Saturday routes. The lab routes alone cover 2,276 miles daily. Scheduling for the 39 route drivers used to be a nightmare using a Lotus-based system.

SaTech helped DMC realize substantial up-front cost reductions and then helped it through three years of department consolidations and work-load increases. In one example, two seven-hour routes were combined into one eight-hour route.

As the hospital downsized drivers through restructuring, SaTech helped remaining drivers efficiently service existing customers. And as DMC acquired physician's offices and clinics, the health care organization used SaTech to optimize driver routes to service deliveries for these acquisitions.

For medical albs, this meant collecting blood work and anatomic specimens from member locations and delivering them the same day to a central location for processing and reporting results back to the individual physician.

For STAT routes, this typically means picking up and delivering blood within 90 minutes for a CBC so that results can be turned around within four hours, often in preparation for surgery. STAT routes change daily and their optimization is mandatory. Two STAT drivers are used per shift.

Similarly, DMC's courier services for paper products - payroll, medical records, mail, etc - to member facilities, such as Huron Valley Hospital, were enhanced by Sadler's efforts. "SaTech's system has made scheduling and routing very easy for us," says Don Gulish, supervisor of courier services at DMB-University Labs. "We can easily move stops from one route to another to improve delivery efficiencies. The system can calculate how many miles a driver is covering and how much time it should take."

Gulish also says that he can enter variables that change schedules. "If it is snowing today, for example, I can reduce travel times to reflect the weather. Or if it's a holiday, and 10 of 50 doctors on a route are closed, the system automatically updates the schedule. We can manipulate data to our advantage."

"Our system eliminates time wasted by drivers taking inefficient routes, scouring maps for drop-off points, or making wrong turns," said SaTech's Sadler. "Plus, it minimizes the amount of outsourcing that's necessary, it tackles overtime expenses, and it maximizes capital equipment.

"Our system examines each day's delivery points and provides the most efficient start-to-finish routes for each vehicle. We take into account weather and traffic conditions, time of day, road construction, one-way streets and other factors. The result is the optimal use of drivers and fleet vehicles, reductions in overtime and other cost saving measures - something most hospital systems are looking for today."

Sadler acknowledges that software is an important part of the solution, but he cautions that it is just one of many tools. "What is more important is our ability to go into an organization, look at the situation, human resources, vehicles, patient locations, delivery requirements, and how business is conducted. The solution sometimes simply requires a tweaking of the operation and not involve software at all."

SaTech provided DMC with the training and updates to operate the system. "If I need help, I've always been able to either get answers over the phone from SaTech or they can access our system remotely through a modem and tell me what the problem is and what needs to be done to solve it," said Gulish.

SaTech services a variety of industries besides health care. Food/dairy/spirits, furniture, courier, computer and appliance repair, field service, and pest control have all realized significant savings through a full spectrum of products and services.

"The program that has rung the loudest for me and is blowing my competition away when it comes to efficiencies in routing is the one that is offered by SaTech Logistics.
"...after better than two years of experience with SaTech, the benefits have been ten fold at a miniumum."
Director of Operations
Midwest Dairy Distributor
"A 14% reduction in just 6 months..."
"Efficiencies aside, we have also taken a manual task that used to take up to 90 minutes to perform down to a task of no more than 5-10 minutes."
Director, Materials Distribution
East Coast Utility Company