Everything you need to know about Hospital Inventory Management

Are you planning to venture your hospital into technology? If so, it’s the best idea one can think of as of now. Today, we have a situation where everyone is planning to go digital from shopping to ordering food online, travel booking and now hospitals. Fret not! Your medical treatment won’t be digital but yes the emerging disruptive technologies such as AI, AR/VR, IoT, Blockchain definitely serve some crucial purpose. Let us find out how a leading healthcare software development company TatvaSoft can help you! 

Now you see nothing is perfect! There are times when even hospitals make mistakes, big ones, huge ones! Well, I am not talking in terms of the technicality or the medical treatments but I am definitely about to focus on the effective management aspect. Several hospitals across the globe have been found either under fire for inefficiency in managing supplies or spending too much on inventory. As a result, they are asked to tighten their belts, and insanely pressurized to manage their inventories in an effective manner. And you know what is the best part? Earlier, hospitals were asked to conduct inventory management in a time-consuming old fashion manner which was nothing but totally inefficient but not anymore.    

Table of Content

  1. What is Hospital Inventory Management?
  2. Significance of Inventory management Systems in Healthcare
    1. Simplified Inventory Management – Tracking Asset
    2. Reducing inaccuracies, Easy Analytics & Maintaining the supply
    3. Cost- Savings
  3. Hospitals Beware! Top Myths busted about Inventory Management Solutions.
  4. Hospital Inventory Best Practices to follow
  5. Conclusion

1. What is Hospital Inventory Management?

Imagine a situation when you are short-staffed or the ER is busy on a Saturday night, what will you do when it comes to managing your inventories. Will you take hospital inventory management as an afterthought? How will you work on restoring your supplies or overstuffing them just to avoid any shortages, and nowhere to put them? Having enough stock on hand boils down to inventory management and sacrificing quality healthcare in the pursuit of hospital profitability is not in anyone’s best interest.

All these situations point towards having effective inventory management. After all, this will have a huge impact on the way you care about your patients especially if you have less availability of vital medications, supplies and equipment. Can a Healthcare software development process help in this? Before that let us ask few questions?

What is inventory management in the Healthcare Industry in the first place?

As the name implies inventory management aims to supervise drugs and medical supplies to increase the overall efficiency of healthcare supply chains and reduce medication waste.  

You know in the medical world, everybody including the doctors/nurses and other healthcare professionals seems to be focussing on providing high-end patient care, concerning inventory management systems could be quite a challenge. In layman’s terms, inventory management is all about tracking, medical supplies and equipment with lengthy spreadsheets or a pen & paper list. As a result, over time nothing can stop these systems from becoming inaccurate and unorganized. Now, do you think it is advisable for hospitals to spend unnecessary time on inventory-related tasks and less time on caring about the patients? Of course not! And that’s where management inventory management software falls into place.   

With a hospital inventory management software, hospitals, as well as several healthcare companies, can eliminate all the outdated, inefficient inventory tracking methods. Also, here controlling their inventory, tracking assets is no big deal. You know having a full-fledged, secure, cloud-based system on hand can enable hospitals to track their entire medical inventory while keeping tabs on critical information such as supply stock levels, medication expiration dates, and equipment maintenance details. Modern technology allowing healthcare data available all the time.

As a solo medical professional, one might not face any issues while handling inventories. But speaking about an entire hospital or warehouse where stakes are high and everything has to be present at a larger scale, you need an inventory management system. By allowing these inventory management systems to do the heavy lifting, you will find yourself spending the least amount of time worrying regarding inventory and more time in providing the best care for your patients.

2. Significance of Inventory management Systems in Healthcare

Quite in contradiction to the retail stores, where customers, in general, await a product on backorder, of course, this cannot be afforded by the hospitals. As it could result in some serious injury or possibly even a lawsuit. Having the right hospital inventory management software and the latest technology in the healthcare industry at hand can handle operations for equipment, medication, and supplies from the time of order from suppliers through patient billing. Moreover, this can also assist you in reordering as items are being consumed or replacing them before stock levels run too low. 

Difficulties Faced:

  1. Short supply of pharmaceuticals
  2. Loss of theft of supplements or surgical pieces of equipment
  3. Losing Pharmaceuticals
  4. Overstocks meds
  5. The tracking expiry date of pharmaceuticals
  6. Sorting medicines
  7. Generating bills
  8. Creating sales reports
  9. Saving medical device from getting stolen

Further below I have summarized how your business could benefit from inventory management software?

1. Simplified Inventory Management – Tracking Asset

Perhaps the biggest benefit to using inventory management software is that it makes the process of managing your inventory a whole lot easier, saving you time, money and quite frankly, sanity. 

With supply and demand changing throughout the year and your stock levels continuously fluctuating, inventory management software helps to avoid the risk of human error by automating your key business processes.

2. Reducing inaccuracies, Easy Analytics & Maintaining the supply

Inventory & stock management consist of an array of internal management processes. When you do all these tasks manually then there are chances for inaccuracies such as doing data duplicity.

As soon as you adopt an inventory management system, it will automate all the data recording and tracking processes leaving no room for errors. Simply synchronize your orders and inventory across each of your online marketplaces and eCommerce platforms. This ensures that stock levels are adjusted each time you make a sale.

3. Cost- Savings

Last but not least benefit obtained by streamlining your inventory management is cost savings. Till now you had a fair chance of eliminating the inventory costs associated with human errors but what’s more! Well, firstly, inventory management software can improve your chances of shortening your supplier lead time through better supplier management relationships. 

In addition, it also reduces the excess and obsolete stock, not to mention the subsequent costs incurred, by establishing your par levels and calculating your safety stock. This is not it! The biggest news of all is automation. Earlier due to poor inventory management, the healthcare industry used to face significant revenue losses, driven by avoidable errors including stock-outs and overstocks. But not anymore! All thanks to the inventory management systems.

3. Hospitals Beware! Top Myths busted about Inventory Management Solutions

To manage inventory, one needs to be very careful. In fact, there is so much information available on it that you can easily fall into inefficient and wasteful inventory management processes. Fret not! the following post also somehow happens to debunk those myths.

Myth 1 – The Supply Chain is a Major Problem Hospital must Overcome

Well, in reality, the supply chain is no longer a problem. With the majority of hospitals outsourcing supply chain functions to distributors (HIDA, the Health Industry Distributors Association estimates that 100 percent of U.S. hospitals use distributors in some capacity), hospitals typically receive the supplies they need within 24 hours or less. 

In fact, they are able to receive new supplies to virtually any location, hospitals aren’t suffering from supply chain problems.

Myth 2 – If you have ERP you have everything

Of course, this one is not true! Though ERP systems and equipment tend to excel at meeting the needs of manufacturers, and today, hospital CFOs purchase ERP systems for financial and human resource functionality. Hospital supply chain managers are expected to adopt the supply chain module offered by the system. However, these modules are difficult to use and create workflows that are labor-intensive and expensive. And most importantly, they can actually drive up the supply chain costs.

Myth 3 – Relying too much on reporting tools and equipment

COVID-19 has simply taught us nothing is permanent so relying too much on anything is a big problem. While data exists, it can be difficult to access and then, even more, difficult to use for decision-making. Oftentimes, reporting tools and software do offer reports without giving suggestions or recommendations on what actions need to be taken. Fortunately, we have an inventory management solution offering a rules-based recommendation engine, allowing a user to input variables into a report and receive recommendations for actions based on the data. All a hospital has to do is identify it correctly.

4. Hospital Inventory Best Practices to Follow

1. Collect Data from the Supply Chain

It may quite interest you to know that healthcare organizations can save billions of dollars by using supply chain data. The data can be used to discover if the inventory management techniques used are as cost-effective as they could be. As per a recent survey, supply data has been siloed in the past. But, more healthcare firms are looking to build IT systems that use value-based reimbursement models. Using these value-based models, a hospital can more precisely link supplies needed and patient outcomes.

2. Improve Record-keeping

In case, if you aren’t using one already, chances are pretty high of you considering a more sophisticated digital platform with a forecasting feature to determine how many supplies you have in stock inventory compared to what kind of demand you will have in the future. Just to make sure that there are no errors, it is advisable to keep reviewing these inventory records again and again. If not done, it can cause serious challenges for hospital inventory supply management.

3. Lower Chances of Equipment Downtime through Maintenance Practices

Hygiene and sanitization are extremely important especially these days. Several doctors, nurses and other clinical staff are required to maintain cleanliness during hospital hours. This is especially important since the fittings and instruments used by medical personnel have a high probability of being in contact with bacteria and viruses. Just imagine if anyone were to accidentally use unsanitized equipment to treat a patient. Such an action would lead to huge consequences and might even lead to legal issues.

By implementing these inventory best practices you can implement regular maintenance schedules. In no time you will be able to tackle equipment breakdowns before they lead to serious obstacles in your workflow. A hospital can also regulate sterilization practices for small medical instruments used frequently at the hospital. This lowers the chance of infection and creates conditions for a hygienic environment.

5. Conclusion

Surviving in the hospital sector is not easy but it is a necessity and having an inventory system can definitely ease your work. With the help of a hospital inventory system, you don’t have to compromise on your patients anymore.

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Itesh Sharma

Itesh Sharma is core member of Sales Department at TatvaSoft. He has got more than 6 years of experience in handling the task related to Customer Management and Project Management. Apart from his profession he also has keen interest in sharing the insight on different methodologies of software development.

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