Healthcare facilities need efficient inventory management to keep operations running smoothly. Healthcare inventory management involves monitoring and overseeing the items in stock for patient use. These items could be implants, syringes, lab coats, nitrile gloves, cotton swabs, blood test kits, or other consumables. While the larger items in stock might be easy to track, handlers could find it challenging to account for the smaller ones.
Proper medical inventory management is essential for the delivery of first-rate healthcare services. The process should accurately account for the movement of items during delivery, storage, and usage. It should also collect usage data so inventory managers can order the right amount of each item each time they restock. To ensure this inventory management process is effective, healthcare facilities need end-to-end workflows that are quick and easy. It should also not cause delays when a medical practitioner needs an item to attend to a patient. Most modern hospitals have IT systems that help them manage their inventory.
With the right IT system, hospitals should know the precise location of each item and their remaining quantity. Their inventory management systems must be robust but flexible to handle supply chain disruptions without affecting the delivery of healthcare services. Some healthcare facilities opt for managed IT services from third-party to ensure their IT systems are always functional because inventory management is critical to their operations.
Healthcare Inventory Tracking
Healthcare inventory management is complex and involves many departments in a medical facility. It is impossible to predict the ailment of every patient and the medical supplies to be used on them. Even if there are planned surgeries, a need for additional inventory can suddenly arise. This urgent need might require an item to be transferred from another department or ordered from a supplier. Without an efficient inventory tracking system, these items might not be recorded. However, with the advancement in medical technology, inventory tracking is possible.
It is important to note that inventory is mobile in a healthcare facility, so the management system should be capable of tracking them effectively for audit purposes. It should also facilitate the data capture of all items used for medical procedures.
Challenges With Healthcare Inventory Management
As crucial as healthcare inventory management is, hospitals still face challenges during the process. Some of them include:
- Keeping inventory list updated
There are always new vendor updates and item usage. It can be overwhelming to keep track of it all. People should be dedicated to taking periodic notes of incomings and outgoings of all items and entering them into the system.
- Managing recalls and expiry dates
A hospital might be so large that it is nearly impossible to ensure medical staff use the items closest to their expiry date. Issuing expired medicine to patients can be fatal, so systems should be in place to prevent this from happening.
- Maintaining appropriate inventory levels
There has to be a balance on the amount of each item in a hospital’s inventory. If an item is overstocked, some could expire, while understocking could result in a health emergency. These problems are mostly products of inaccurate inventory data. Hospitals can avoid this by ensuring efficient inventory tracking and recording systems are put in place and enough staff members are assigned to oversee the process.
Every healthcare facility should have efficient inventory management systems to prevent health emergencies. It is ideal for inventory to be tracked on IT systems so they can be easily accessed and updated regularly. Otherwise, they could be delivery delays, overstocking, and disruptions in medical procedures.