Healthcare supply chain gets a boost with Vamstar’s AI-driven platform

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Vamstar has taken on a rather challenging job since its launch in 2019: To be the healthcare industry’s go-to supply chain management app for some 86,000 medical facilities and hundreds of thousands of different items, ranging from cotton swabs to heart defibrillators.

The Los Angeles, California-based company announced today that its AI-enabled, software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based global sourcing and procurement platform for medical supplies and pharmaceuticals will be expanding its already widespread network of hospitals, clinics and suppliers, thanks to a $9.5 million series A funding round. 

Vamstar connects both buyers and suppliers electronically to automate transaction and process flow across the supply chain on a global scale. The platform is used by businesses and organizations to connect suppliers, such as pharmaceuticals, consumables, medical devices and digital technology companies, with public and private buyers, such as hospitals, laboratories, health insurances, clinics, corporations and universities or group purchasing organizations (GPOs).

Not only does the platform enable buyers to search for and find the best suppliers for each item they need, but it also enables the business people on both sides of every deal to negotiate pricing and delivery times. 

AI, ML important for running exchange platform

CEO Praful Mehta told VentureBeat that Vamstar will use the investment to speed up its product development plans, which include deploying artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance its consumables and generics exchange platform, improving data quality for faster e-commerce and digitizing procurement and sourcing processes for both buyers and suppliers across the industry. 

“We provide a platform — SaaS or on-premises — where we take the demand from the buyer,” Mehta said. “We can use any channel the buyer currently uses, whether it’s email, text, WhatsApp, or anything else – even faxes.”

Mehta explained, that the platform can connect with a buyer’s WhatsApp (to make a purchase), or if they’re using their enterprise resource planning app (ERP), it reconnects with their ERP to index all of that demand in one single layer on the buyer side. If they want to go directly to Vamstar’s website, then, there are two payment methods.

“We launch a really wide tender to the suppliers to basically provide their bits, or we will reach out with our technology to all the suppliers and ask for price quotes automatically – So it is basically a lot faster, a lot smoother,” he said. “For example, for a buyer to get a quote today, it takes an average of about 11 days. With us, it’s actually less than 24 hours. You get all the codes and you can form a very simple contract using our network.”

Digitizing healthcare commerce

The healthcare industry has long lacked an organized procurement system that integrates data, processes, people and technology across the supply chain, Mehta said. Despite advances in other industries, hospital procurement processes have not integrated digitally with suppliers’ commercial processes, leading to supply chain inefficiencies. Not only is there a need to realize the benefits of digitizing sourcing and procurement processes to reduce transaction costs, but to improve the data foundation to improve value-based healthcare, Mehta said.

“Healthcare supply chains are under tremendous pressure with ongoing crises like COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and rising inflation,” Mehta said. “There is very little data available to help healthcare procurement managers and suppliers make decisions in real-time. Our goal is to empower supply chain professionals, clinicians, hospital administrators and their suppliers to collaborate in innovative ways to create meaningful relationships.” 

Buyers can use machine learning (ML), Mehta said, to search across suppliers and their catalogs; launch tenders and sourcing events using automated workflows; receive bids and quotes in a prioritized sequence; and place orders electronically and automate the source-to-pay (S2P) processes. 

Suppliers, on the other hand, can get prioritized access to tenders, RFXs and direct orders from 86,000 hospitals and clinics across 100+ countries directly or within their customer relationship management (CRM) and ERP platforms; get access to ML forecasts and natural language processing (NLP) enriched catalog and tender award data with virtual supplier profiles and receive orders electronically and automate the order-to-cash (O2C) processes, Mehta said.Vamstar competes in the market against companies that include Arctic Shores, Cytora, Contact Engine and Prowler, according to industry analyst company, Growjo.