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Kiran Ajaz

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Here's How Hospitals Can Benefit From Medical Inventory Software

Best Ways To Manage Medical Inventory

Proper inventory management within healthcare centers, hospitals, and the doctor's office is crucial to successful patient care. Inventory is among the biggest expenses for the operation of any healthcare institute. There's a fine line between life and death. It's important to have the right medical inventory. When a patient’s life is at stake and medical costs keep escalating, inventory tracking can have profound effects on the quality of patient care you offer. A cloud-based medical inventory software can help you do the following:

- Maintain compliance
- Prepare reports
- Document usage patterns
- Keep optimum stock levels
- Improve chain of custody
- Control spread of diseases

On the whole, it helps you to reduce inventory costs and improve staff productivity. As per a survey in 2017, businesses were asked where they are investing most heavily to evolve their inventory management practices. 50 percent of them invested in warehouse management, up from just over 40 percent in the previous year.

 

So how can a robust system help hospitals practice efficient inventory management?

1. Unique asset tags for swift check-out and check-in actions

If you want to maximize the efficiency of your medical inventory management system, you should definitely use asset tags! It helps medical organizations manage the rotation of medical inventory between storage, sterilization, and surgery. The RFID tags or barcode labels give a unique identification to each item. Make sure you don’t use an item’s serial number as the identification number. Why? Because manufacturers might duplicate serial numbers and that is going to make tracking your individual medical items almost impossible.

Tagging medical inventory allows you to track its usage. It enables seamless check-in and check-out functionality for healthcare organizations. Scanning tags for checking in or checking out medical inventory gives you more visibility into your medical items. It helps you trace missing items by knowing who used it last, where it was used and when. Tracking medical instruments and supplies prevents financial waste by eliminating loss and theft.

The value of inventory tracking isn’t just in dollars and cents. Using barcodes on medication reduced errors in administration by 41.4% at an academic medical center. Furthermore, you also have the advantage of streamlining maintenance and monitoring the lifecycle of your medical inventory. You get to know when your medical supplies are about to reach their expiry dates. The check-in and check-out process eventually increases staff productivity and efficiency.

2. Efficient tracking of medical equipment and inventory

How about providing the best healthcare possible? To make that happen your medical personnel must have all the material to do so. This is why you have to keep track of statistics related to lab samples, medical devices, and drug inventories. Tracking these items individually using a solution will also prevent medical inventory from getting lost. Every device and any medical sample will be accessible on a moment’s notice, exactly when it is required.

For instance, there are healthcare organizations that manage implantable devices like cerebrospinal fluid shunts and aneurysm clips. They have to follow rigorous manufacturing guidelines and also need to document the data and movement of such device. An implantable medical device has a serial number that can be used to track its movement from the time you purchase it to its implantation. When you have a medical inventory solution in place, your staff will be able to know which implantable device was used on which patient. This information happens to be invaluable in case the device results in any kind of adverse reaction for a patient.

3. Better contract compliance and cost reduction

In both pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, it is not uncommon to have group-buying contracts with product manufacturers and distributors. What makes these types of contracts beneficial is that medical goods can be bought at a reduced cost. Inventory management has a prime role to play in bringing out the most of such contracts. The problem is that most of the healthcare organizations are using manual inventory control processes. In that case, you have more chances of either understocking or overstocking an item. Both the outcomes have a negative impact on healthcare operations.

Experiencing stock-out because of ineffective inventory management is the last thing you want. This may compel you to make purchases outside of your contractual terms and that too at higher prices rather than agreed on prices. This can cause variance in the purchase price, resulting in noncompliance with contractual terms. With a robust inventory software, you can keep your medical inventory at optimum levels and eliminate the risk of stock outs. This keeps your company in compliance with group-buying contracts and reduces the overall costs.

4. Continuous check on the spread of diseases

Yet another benefit that healthcare organizations get with efficient inventory management is the control on the spread of diseases. It can certainly reduce ‘never-events’ including erroneous amputations, infections, and falls. Now how does that happen? Remember the event of mad-cow disease in England. Tracking surgical instruments properly helped in preventing the use of infected instruments with other patients. It won’t be wrong to say that the control of disease begins with better inventory management.

Healthcare organizations are able to maintain optimum levels of medical supplies, instruments, and devices so that the patients are always given timely treatments. It also enables you to manage recalls and reduce expirations. It lets hospitals make evidence-based decisions to plan inventory as per the demand. It's natural not to remember how many products need to be re-ordered and when. With medical inventory system in place, you can set automatic reorder points for all your medical supplies. You can even analyze the past data and order the right amount of products.

5. Achieve structured chain of custody

Most of the hospitals out there manually enter details on medications, surgical supplies, and medical devices into a database. It is not only time-consuming but prone to errors and miscalculations. Using the traditional method, your items will keep disappearing and you will have no way to find them because you can’t trace who last used it. On the flip side, an automated tracking system effectively maintains and monitors stock levels along with tracking medical inventory.

For instance, hospitals need to be sure that every biological sample is under the protection and control of a person who is capable of doing so. And it is clear that the person is legally responsible for the sample. The accuracy in the chain of custody can be achieved with a barcode or the RFID technology. It enables the manager to see who has handled the medical device or sample, where it is right now and when it was used. This helps you to improve staff accountability and increase the level of inventory accuracy and safety.

Is your healthcare organization familiar with the medical best practices? As a medical warehouse manager, are you able to keep up with inventory?

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More Stories By Kiran Ajaz

Kiran Ajaz is a Technical Writer at EZOfficeInventory, a medical inventory software for healthcare firms and beyond. An MBA graduate. She is enthusiastic about the way technology interacts with contemporary businesses and enables them to focus on core efficiencies.