The Velveteen Internet of Things – Healthcare Supply Chain leaders better get comfortable with new hyperconnectivity “made real!”


I have always enjoyed the various business parables drawn from the children’s book written by Margery Williams “The Velveteen Rabbit.” In this story a stuffed rabbit sewn from velveteen is given as a Christmas present to a small boy. The story focuses on the stuffed rabbit his desire to “become real,” through the love of his owner.

So we have birthed a new parable… “The velveteen internet of things (IoT).” We have so loved the potential and the discourse on IoT we have “made it real!” As supply chain professionals we need a current working understanding of the IoT and how it is demanding new skills and new ways to optimize critical disruptive attributes to actually assist us in driving new economic utility.

How did we get here? Hyperconnectivity is the accelerating interconnectedness between people, objects, and technology. The progression of hyperconnectivity is the progressive development of three epochs of technological advancement:

  1. The Internet – the great equalizer – making it possible for the e-collective of all computers to connect on through a solitary platform.
  2. Mobile tech grew (and continues to grow) exponentially, which accelerates hyperconnectivity worldwide.
  3. The Internet of Things is the oncoming epoch of advancement, and is delivering an unprecedented interconnectedness.

(ref: The Economist Intelligence Unit: Hyperconnected Organisations)

So how do supply chain leaders find a comfort zone with the IoT 3rd epoch? By finding the value proposition in interconnectedness and making sure the organization is optimizing it.

New value levels of support for diagnostic and therapeutic capital equipment: Devices can allow service techs to run precision remote diagnostics, and the remote OEM tech can then remote in to the hands-on facility clinical engineer with root cause to failure as well as instructions for replacing the defective part or shipping in repair parts, boards, and “hero kits.” Also downtime and meantime between failure service expectations can be spelled out with better value and benefit for the user. Recent industry trends show that connected Varian linear accelerators are seeing mean time to repair cut in half, and service costs cut by $2000 for each problem solved remotely, with a 20% reduction in OEM tech dispatches. Elekta is also reports significant cost improvements from their ability to perform “over the shoulder” OEM support.

(Ref: http//wwwforbescom/sites/salesforce////nternet­things­revolutionizing­health­care)

Value from predictive supply replenishment: From MRI helium, to lab equipment reagents, and ultimately consumable replenishment through consumable “bundles” predetermined by utilization of a “trigger” asset. This is accomplished through treatment planning and diagnostic intervention software interfacing with machine schedules, calibrations, and in-machine product waste assessments to further talk to inventory control and replenishment modules in the ERP/MMIS system. Connect the value stream further through upstream supplier channels as well as triggers for waste stream and reverse supply chain work activity and we have end-to-end hyperconectedness that we can use to focus elimination of duplicative work in the most beneficial areas. Even hospital beds can aid in triggering a pull signal for linens, incontinence and convenience products, tubing, and circulatory control products as they interface with EMR, and the EMR to MMIS.

Device Utilization: A connected diagnostic device can provide specific and discrete data sets to help normalize device utilization relative to patient assignment and managing peak / off-peak equipment times. Machine capabilities can be scheduled proactively with treatment planning and EMR systems and give a new data-driven tool to service line leaders and supply chain equipment planners in selecting the right functionality for equipment.

High-value discussions to have with your Chief Information Officer, Clinical Engineering Leader, and Decision Support team. These discussions will help you keep pace with the proliferation of healthcare IoT as it affects your organization.

  • Understand the current management maturity of the ERP and EMR.
  • Become familiar with your organization’s in-memory and cloud computing strategy as well as the data warehousing and management plans.
  • Talk through the practicality of extended digital capabilities through social media, mobility, “bring your own device” approaches, and analytics.
  • Bring up the organizational appetite for big data… How much is helpful, and how much is too much for physicians and decision makers.
  • Discuss the value-driving insights that supply chain is hungry for from analytics, and how those capabilities can be built into the data management plan.
  • Understand the rate limiting issues that are necessary to contend with such as data mass diffusion and overload, cyber security risk concerns that the interface of uneven platforms delivers (including business continuity for cyber interruption to patient care), and how the organization applies an ROI to the benefits of IoT and hyperconnectivity.
  • And never be hesitant to open discussions and building a culture of data-driven, high value decision making.


I hope you are inspired to find the value proposition to the hyperconnected silver lining of the IoT cloud (pun intended) …  As Margery Williams wrote in The Velveteen Rabbit “Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” I think the IoT is here stay.
Until next we meet, I appreciate all you do to fill the hands that heal!



Please visit my N=5 Supply Chain Blog to participate in discussions on, demonstrating fiscal accountability, how to stop doing stupid stuff, and effective ways to manage purchased services expense.


The OutSideIn blog will help you to get started planning a high-value approach to multi-channel reverse supply chain and how to cope with the minor defeats that come with the wins in life.

Thank you




Timothy Hagler is an experienced supply chain leader, with an ever-accelerating interest in earnestly connecting stakeholders with creative ideas to meet new economic realities for healthcare providers. Tim has enjoyed an excellent track record of achievement and advancement earned through demonstrated contribution to bottom-line results, employing strong solutions architecture, analytic and financial skills in challenging, multi-client environments. Tim and his lovely wife Kandy enjoy spending time at the beach in South Carolina. Tim’s hobbies include photography, American folk music, and writing about himself in the third person.


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