Even the slightest mistake or deficiency can cause severe outcomes in the healthcare sector. A missing medical supply or a malfunctioning medical device could sometimes spell the difference between life and death. That’s why proper inventory management is essential in every facility.
Healthcare inventory management involves monitoring stock movement and device usage, gathering historical data, and forecasting trends. Thus, it ensures the facility has enough supplies and equipment to address patient demands.
Hospitals handle hundreds, if not thousands, of medical supplies and equipment, from bandages and masks to hospital beds and machines. It can be highly challenging to keep up with such a wide range of inventory, but not if you know how.
Here’s a guide detailing valuable insights on the best inventory management practices.
- Automating Your Fixed Asset Tracking
The medical equipment used in various diagnostic and treatment procedures is considered fixed assets. Besides imaging machines, they include devices that comfort patients, such as air conditioning, plumbing, ventilation, and other building fixtures. These fixed assets contribute significantly to healthcare delivery and patient satisfaction.
Real-time monitoring of these resources is crucial to proper usage and maintenance. That’s where fixed asset tracking software comes in. These applications have different features and functionalities, but they all use asset tags to monitor a device’s location, condition, and history.
Asset tags are labels attached to medical equipment and feature barcodes with a specific identification number, making it easy for hospital staff to determine its location. This technology often relies on radio-frequency identification (RFID) to provide essential details, including user and purchase histories, maintenance schedules, and current value.
Automating asset tracking reduces the likelihood of misplaced medical items and theft. Asset tagging also streamlines the maintenance process and equipment audits, increasing staff productivity.
- Aligning Your Inventory Management Software With Your Needs
Inventory management software comes with different features and capabilities. Some may cover all components of inventory management. Others may specialize in one or a few of its elements, like monitoring stocks or locating goods and devices. Choosing the appropriate application requires facilities to analyze and identify their organizational must-haves.
While it’s nice to have the latest software on the market, addressing the hospitals’ needs should be a priority. It helps to choose a scalable system with expandable capabilities to keep up with the healthcare facility’s growth. Besides being user-friendly, the software must have integrated analytics and reporting functions. It can help hospital executives get an overview of their material resources and performances.
Most organizations integrate their inventory management system into other software. It provides seamless information management and tracking ecosystem among all facility staff. However, it would be best if the system is well-protected from online breaches and intrusions.
Ensuring your facility’s system integrity requires the help of professionals from Attentus Cyber Security and other reputable companies. Besides offering robust security, these experts help ensure compliance with regulatory laws like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Food and Drug Administration’s Unique Device Identification (UDI) System, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to name a few.
- Organizing Your Supply Room
A study has indicated that nurses spend at least 170 hours per year in supply chain functions or activities. Medical workers ensure the facility has the medications, items, and supplies they need for patient care.
Automation in the healthcare industry may have dramatically reduced this figure. However, the fact remains that a cluttered supply room causes delays in locating items and hampers proper inventory.
Manual supply management is prone to human errors and can lead to missing or misplaced supplies, inefficiencies, and excessive spending. Keeping your supply room organized helps prevent shortages, enables timely replenishments, and eliminates errors and delays.
For instance, establishing a system for separating and stacking perishable goods according to their expiry dates helps the staff use them more efficiently and prevents wastage.
- Automating Inventory Replenishment Processes
Besides monitoring stocks and tracking usage, inventory management involves other workflow processes that guarantee ample supplies and well-functioning assets. These include ordering stocks for replenishment. The first step in having adequate items and equipment is gathering data about usage patterns to forecast the demand correctly.
Predicting the demand for a specific item is quick and easy with inventory management software integrated with machine-learning capabilities. Such applications tap historical data and market trends to develop predictive analysis. Facilities can use them to maintain par stock levels and run automated replenishment or order requests.
By digitizing the workflow, healthcare facilities can save time and money on replenishment and prevent costly errors. It also frees up many of the staff’s working hours, allowing them to focus on their core patient care duties.
- Collecting Data To Optimize Performance
Healthcare facilities must gather and process different data sets to get valuable insights critical to operational efficiency. Hospitals should determine existing usage patterns and other trends to manage stock and devices efficiently.
Performance indicators like inventory turnover ratio, order cycle time, utilization rate, and out-of-stock rate inventory are essential parameters in healthcare inventory management. They indicate the current usage and order patterns required in studying internal and external issues that could cause problems.
Inventory metrics are crucial in monitoring, measuring, and evaluating your performance, enabling you to determine and implement measures to minimize operational weaknesses. Collecting and examining key metrics allows you to stay on top of your assets, ensuring that your devices work optimally and that your supplies can address patient needs at any time.
- Reviewing Your Inventory Workflows And Processes
An inventory management system comprises several components that must work seamlessly to achieve your desired outcomes. Automating your workflows can help save time, reduce human error, and increase revenues. However, constantly reviewing your workflows and processes can help you spot further weaknesses and issues as you go along.
A yearly review of key performance indicators culled from inventory management software is valuable in determining areas of improvement and eliminating bottlenecks that hamper operational efficiencies.
Healthcare facilities are one of the most critical institutions in any society. Even a minor error can risk a patient’s life or delay recovery in these settings. Proper inventory management helps prevent these and other common issues, including supply shortages and wastage, unnecessary expenses, and reduced productivity.
Organizations can optimize their operations and improve efficiency by minimizing inventory management challenges, leading to better staff retention, service delivery, and patient outcomes.