Inventory management isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about health care, but it is, in fact, the backbone that keeps all departments in a medical facility working efficiently and ensures the best possible care for patients. Inventory in medical facilities isn’t just the drugs they hold, it’s all the equipment and instruments as well. It’s every item they use to diagnose and treat patients and ensure their comfort and wellbeing. When this definition of inventory is understood, it’s easy to see how important it is for hospitals and clinics to have complete oversight of it, to know how much of it they have at all times, to monitor its use, and to be able to anticipate future needs.
Like all industries, the best way to have this oversight of health-care inventory is by automating, by using inventory management software. We’re going to explore the benefits inventory management systems offer health-care facilities in this blog.
The need for inventory management in health care
Take a look at the range of items classified as inventory in a medical facility:
- Medical supplies: bandages, gauze, gloves, bandaids, masks and other consumables used in patient care.
- Medications: drugs to treat conditions – prescription and over-the-counter, anesthetics for surgeries.
- Medical equipment: all surgical instruments, monitoring devices, diagnostic equipment, wheelchairs, etc.
- Furniture and fixtures: beds, chairs, desks, lights, computer terminals, etc.
- Linens and clothing: bedding, towels, gowns, etc.
- Sundries: pens, paper, toilet tissue, regular tissue, etc.
Basically, it’s everything other than the staff. When looked at this way, it’s easy to see that there has to be a system in place to keep track of everything, to know when equipment and medicines are getting old, or certain drugs are in low supply.
What are the overall benefits to health-care facilities from automating inventory management?
1. Enhanced efficiency
Humans are prone to making counting and logging errors; automated systems are not. That in itself is a boon to efficiency. An automated system can also be programmed to recognize when items are running low and to reorder those supplies when that happens. Eliminating human fallibility from the business of maintaining inventory levels leads to less waste and ensures that a medical facility always has what it needs.
2. Cost savings
As described in the previous section, automating inventory management cuts down on the need for manual labor, a factor that’s a clear cost saving in itself. Additionally, Cin7 Core, formerly known as DEAR Systems, has an inventory management system that can also track expiration dates and give alerts when they’re reached so old medicines can be disposed of. It’s another way to prevent waste and reduce costs.
3. Better purchase decisions
Many health-care facilities order in bulk. To ensure that the right amount of inventory is purchased, an inventory management system can use the data it accumulates about the quantity of items used and the speed at which items must be restocked to forecast demand. That translates to a medical facility better preparing for short- and long-term demands so that buying in bulk does not lead to overstocking.
Other advantages medical facilities get from automating inventory
1. Know where equipment and supplies are at all times
In addition to maintaining lists of equipment and drugs, an automated system will also have a register of their whereabouts in the facility. The benefits of knowing this are manifold. There’s less chance of drugs getting lost, and if a patient is in need of a wheelchair, the staff will know exactly where they are and be able to get one fast.
2. Keep accurate track of equipment
Barcodes and QR codes aren’t just for grocery stores. Tagging hospital equipment is a great way to track it in the facility and monitor its use. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are another way to go. The added advantages of this system is that it can identify who used what when. It also provides an extra layer of security against theft.
Tags can be used to keep equipment and machines in good working order as well. They do this by keeping tabs on maintenance schedules and letting the relevant employees know when one is due.
3. Get valuable data
For a medical facility, the data collected by an automated inventory management system can also provide valuable information about individual departments: how they function, what their needs are. This information will prevent unnecessary items from being ordered, saving money and resources.
On top of this, the data garnered from an automated system can be centralized, making it easily accessible to all relevant parties. It can be organized to suit different purposes, making the job of management so much easier. In addition, trends and patterns can be identified quicker, and with this kind of detail, medical facilities can quickly adapt to current health-care needs in their community.
Let Cin7 Core help your medical facility manage its inventory
Significantly improve the way your inventory is maintained and managed, streamlining your system and ensuring your medical facility works smoothly and cost efficiently while giving the best possible patient care.
Schedule a consultation with one of our Cin7 Core experts today!