Reverse Logistics in the Medical Sector - Research Proposal

Paper Type:  Research proposal
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1176 Words
Date:  2023-08-01


The process of reverse logistics (RL) is crucial in the medical sector. Medical supply systems worldwide rely on RV to ensure that the medicinal products reach the end-user and that they are used appropriately. Medical devices must be accounted for in every stage of management. For instance, the health facilities must accept, discard, and recover the devices due to social, legal, and economic reasons (Chandra & Kachhal, 2004). This thesis proposal will address various RL concepts that suit the general medical sector, including hospital pharmacy and medicine supply. It will focus on the mechanisms that influence the RL activities, such as legislative factors, clinic-pharmacies, and socioeconomic factors. The research will discuss how vital reverse logistics is for medical device fulfillment.

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Research Aims

Medical device products require an effective supply chain management system. The medical device requirements are among the most potential and critical challenges for the logistics sector. The impediments relate to inventory control, time-definite transportation, proper storage, handling, and lot tracking. The other challenge is the registration and certifications necessary for medical equipment fulfillment. Reverse logistics is believed to solve most of the problems that the medical device sector encounter. The industry comprises of a wide variety of products that require professional care and handling. For example, lot tracking demands must be observed by the medical facilities. RL is intended to provide value-added services for medical devices (Rossetti et al., 2011). It ensures that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aspects are fulfilled in all the distribution centers. Besides, RL enables a fool-grade level safety audits that comprise of inspections, training for manufacturers, and certification.

The study will analyze the specific challenges in medical device supply management experience. Health supplies are very delicate and require a reliable mechanism that can ensure they remain useful. Reverse logistic help in handling product recalls. The recalls are expensive; hence there is the need to ensure accuracy and completeness. Various conditions can lead to recalls. For instance, there are medical products that might expire before their actual use is conducted. In the United States (U.S), research performed shows that 5 percent of over-the-counter medications are not utilized before they expire. It has also been shown that over 40 percent of Americans have expired medications in their homes (Xie & Breen, 2014). These medicines are tossed household trash, sewers, and eventually into the water supply. Such a scenario can expose the public and wildlife into a health risk. Therefore, RL is required to ensure there are recycling services in various regions that can sustain the disposal of such medications.

RL enables the health officials to maintain a chain-of-custody from the manufacturer to the end-user of the medical product. The devices pass through a range of chains that starts from the manufacturer to the warehouse to the retailer or the consumer (patient). Third-party logistics can as well complement the efforts of reverse logistics through participating in "mock" recalls. This type of recall arises when Adhoc reports are produced for the customers to confirm the state of the lot that is shipped. In the case of unique lots, the 3PL providers will initiate a systemic hold in a warehouse to conduct cycle counts (Kumar et al., 2009). This process is undertaken to ensure there is the right inventory quantity.

Research Objectives

The objective of the study is to provide a comprehensive review of the literature on reverse logistics in medical supply management. Other objectives are:

  • To discuss how reverse logistics aid medical device fulfillment services;
  • To assess the future of the healthcare supply chain Using reverse logistics;
  • To review the impacts of reverse logistics medical supply chain management;
  • To identify the benefits and examples of reverse logistics in the medical device supply.

Preliminary Literature Review

The concept of reverse logistics entails monitoring and supervising the life-cycle of a product until they reach the end-consumer. It also assesses how a product should be appropriately disposed of after use, how it can potentially be reused, and ways in which expired products can be of value. Research by Brown (2008) shows that reverse logistics in the medical sector must abide by the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA). Agwunobi & London (2009) further affirms that RL is meant to overcome challenges in healthcare supply chain management. Many healthcare facilities are encountering roadblocks regarding supply chain efficiency. Before the invention of RL, healthcare logistics professionals use to face various challenges. In response to their problems, they looked for low-cost solutions that could not be enforced due to quality and regulatory measures (Aston, 2010). Therefore, compliance and quality issues have arisen in the medical device supply systems. Such a state is caused by product issues such as recalls.

The fragments in the healthcare supply chain have caused billions of dollars in value and affected the healthcare sector's ability to counter various problems. In many cases, medical supplies face the issue of quality and safety with medical and pharmaceutical devices. Such cases may ignite a voluntary recall by the manufacturer. Therefore, there was a need to create a recall plan. Reverse logistics is believed to be the best concept to aid medical supply management (Chandra & Kachhal, 2004). It enhances the speed and quality of the response to issues that affect the supply chain. Managing reverse logistics is a fragmented process that requires antiquated technology.


In developing a better understanding of the study, the research method applied must be explained. According to Lindlof & Taylor (2017), research methods are applied to make explicit and implicit assumptions on the nature of knowledge. The research will use a quantitative and qualitative approach. When collecting data, there will be a prevalence of non-conformity and conformity of the issues regarding reverse logistics in medical supply management. There will be an analysis of public health data referring to various health institutions. There will be an investigation of the phenomenon surrounding medical products application. A semi-structured interview technique will be applied.


Agwunobi, J., & London, P. A. (2009). Removing costs from the health care supply chain: lessons from mass retail. Health affairs, 28(5), 1336-1342.

Aston, G. (2010). Comparative effectiveness. Federal government's push for more data to benefit supply chain. Materials management in health care, 19(4), 22-25.

Brown, S. B. (2008). Most Wired hospitals stay the supply chain course. Materials management in health care, 17(8), 21-25.

Chandra, C., & Kachhal, S. K. (2004, February). Managing health care supply chain: trends, issues, and solutions from a logistics perspective. In Proceedings of the sixteenth annual society of health systems management engineering forum, February (pp. 20-21).

Kumar, S., Dieveney, E., & Dieveney, A. (2009). Reverse logistic process control measures for the pharmaceutical industry supply chain. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management.

Lindlof, T. R., & Taylor, B. C. (2017). Qualitative communication research methods. Sage publications.

Rossetti, C. L., Handfield, R., & Dooley, K. J. (2011). Forces, trends, and decisions in pharmaceutical supply chain management. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management.

Xie, Y., & Breen, L. (2014). Who cares wins? A comparative analysis of household waste medicines and batteries reverse logistics systems. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal.

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Reverse Logistics in the Medical Sector - Research Proposal. (2023, Aug 01). Retrieved from

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