In the construction industry, employees have easier access to their tools and equipment, thanks to their inventory system. But what about the healthcare industry?
In the medical world, the accuracy of your inventory is just as important as patient care. But it looks like everybody’s only focusing on providing high-quality patient care. Inventory management can be a real challenge. In fact, for some medical institutions, inventory management can mean tracking medical supplies and equipment with pen and paper or using a spreadsheet. This type of inventory system will become unorganized and inaccurate over time.
Medical inventory system defined
Medical inventory systems encourage medical institutions to eliminate inefficient inventory management methods and take control of their inventory using an automated inventory system. This system, which can be in the form of an app, helps teams in tracking their medical inventory accurately while keeping tabs on critical information like medication expiration dates, stock levels, and equipment maintenance details. This means that managers and staff will know what supplies are available, what medication will expire soon, where the equipment is, and who is accountable for it.
Whether you’re a medical device and equipment supplier, a solo practitioner, or a part of a larger medical institution, automating the inventory process will allow you to eliminate the guessing part of the inventory management. If you allow the system to do the heavy lifting, then you don’t have to spend your time worrying about your inventory. You can spend that time to grow your practice and provide the best care to your patients.
Inventory management challenges
Tracking materials and supplies in the healthcare industry is challenging, especially since inventory needs always fluctuate. Below are the challenges current medical inventory system has:
- The complex needs of patients. Patient needs are very specific and complicated, which means that hospitals should manage a universe of inventory and keep it in order to assist the patients.
- Volatile demand. It’s normal for inventory to fluctuate. In fact, they are even more pronounced in the hospital setting. Contagious diseases come and go, and in some days, the need for emergency responses is high. Because of this, medical institutions like hospitals find themselves unexpectedly facing shortages in supplies. They may also be in a chaotic situation which prevents them from finding limited supplies on short notice.
- Age-sensitive and temperature-sensitive items. The problem is that some chemicals and medicines have a limited shelf life. Some medicines are prone to damage whenever the temperature changes, and as a result, medical institutions struggle to protect sensitive inventory. They also face the challenge of ensuring that the items are used in the right order to prevent expiration. Disorganized institutions can waste so many resources if they don’t track their inventory properly.
- Security has always been an issue when it comes to hospital inventories. People may steal drugs and chemicals and tamper with other sensitive items. These issues can bring significant legal and safety liability for the hospital.
Because of all these challenges, what you have in your spreadsheet or your ledger may contain some inaccuracies. In the healthcare industry, accuracy is very important. How many pieces of equipment do you have available? You can’t just guess the answer based on the number you remembered. Information should be 100% complete and accurate. And this is why you need the help of a medical inventory system.
How a medical inventory system improves inventory accuracy
Replacing paper trails or spreadsheets using an inventory system can bring a huge increase in inventory accuracy. How’s this possible? That’s simple.
Without manually entering the information on paper or your spreadsheet, there’s less chance for human error. This applies to tracking stock levels, expiration dates, and equipment maintenance. And if you want to make sure you didn’t miss anything, then you’ll have to check the spreadsheet again, which wastes so much time. You could have spent that time doing other things instead of double-checking the information in your inventory.
Also, having a secure, cloud-based system that you can connect to a mobile app means that you can have access to your updated information any time, anywhere. When your equipment is checked out, or when your supplies are re-stocked, then all the users who have access to the system will be able to view the changes automatically. This means that doctors, nurses, and other administrators can avoid miscommunication or confusion when it comes to inventory updates.
Improving accuracy can also help both small and large private hospitals to improve security and compliance. Many health care professionals can access controlled substances, so the government needs to require hospitals, medical clinics, and pharmacies to report any uncontrolled substances that are misplaced or lost. If you don’t have an accurate and up-to-date inventory system, then medical institutions can be at risk to safety issues because of legal liabilities and theft, if the federal agency request for these records.
If you’re still tracking your inventory via spreadsheets, now is the time to upgrade to an automated inventory management system. Your goal should be to make sure your records are 100% accurate. But the question is, how do you find an effective inventory software? What features should it have to ensure the accuracy of your inventory?
How to find the best medical inventory system?
Finding the best inventory software for your hospital is only easy if you know what you’re looking for. To help you, here are the features that you should be looking for when you decide to buy an inventory system:
- Real-time tracking – this allows you to keep track of drug inventories, medical devices, and lab samples to ensure they are available whenever you need them.
- Customizable software – you should be able to customize the system so that it meets the requirements of your facility.
- Improved data security and patient safety – this allows you to reliably track items and pharmaceuticals to ensure that they aren’t lost.
- Improved chain of custody – this allows the staff to determine the last person who handled a particular piece of equipment or sample.