Woman checking inventory in warehouse

How to Properly Improve Your Healthcare Inventory Management System

Did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts PPE would need to increase by 40% to meet global demand? Gloves, surgical masks, and N95s are some of the PPE many hospitals in the United States and globally have struggled to find enough supplies.

Healthcare inventory management is a critical issue in America. Low supplies can affect surgeries, infections, and patient care. Ultimately, it could also put healthcare workers and patients at risk.

Luckily, there are solutions that help inventory management. Implementing a few technologically-advanced changes into your inventory system can save money, improve patient care, and reduce healthcare worker burnout.

In our complete guide, we will go over five helpful tips to improve your healthcare inventory management this upcoming year. Keep reading for more information!

Hospital Supply Chain Issues

The hospital supply chain, like many other industries, has experienced issues receiving inventory and managing cycles and supplies. This has added strain to hospitals and clinics, requiring closer inventory management, new supply contracts, and updated inventory tracking.

International shortages of aluminum towards the end of last year made it challenging for many states to receive enough crutches and walkers. This is only one of many examples of the types of equipment that are at risk - nearly 99% of hospitals nationwide report hospital supply chain shortages for medical devices and pharmaceuticals as well.

Approximately 80% of hospitals reorganized new supply contracts because of shortages with current vendors. Drug manufacturers also struggle since many chemicals are organized overseas. While these processes mainly affect lesser-used drugs, they point to a more significant problem.

How can you improve current healthcare inventory systems while considering today's current supply challenges?

1. Streamline Your Inventory Cycle

Streamlining inventory cycles requires smart monitoring devices. These devices track supply shipments, predict re-orders, and calculate current supplies. This is a crucial step to eliminating human error and reducing the time spent manually counting and re-ordering shipments.

BlueBin SmartScan is an upgrade from traditional ERP handheld devices. The device uses detailed analytics and a smart bin system to deliver better inventory performance. Here are a few key benefits of a BlueQ SmartScan device:

  • PO and non-PO receiving
  • Proof of delivery
  • Offsite receiving
  • Warehouse issues and returns
  • Labor time management
  • Inventory cycles
  • Return directly to supplier
  • Analytics

BlueBin Smartscan adds better functionality and versatility to your inventory while also eliminating paying staff members to help with inventory cycles.

2. Cycling Old Inventory

BlueBin Kanban uses smart bins to help you cycle old inventory and save money long-term. How does this system work?

  • Reduces labor costs
  • Manages re-supply orders (e.g., automatic re-orders)
  • Reduces risk of dangerously low supplies
  • Reduces risk of expired supplies
  • Optimizes inventory

The system paired with a barcode reader “learns” your system and implements long-lasting solutions. Many hospitals are unaware when they reach low stock or may have expired and unused items. This system is proven to help improve these issues.

3. Upgrading Analytics

Medical inventory management's key to success in analytics. Analytics are critical for:

  • Assessing the current need
  • Planning for future inventory increases or decreases
  • Learning trends
  • Reducing labor costs
  • Improving overall patient care

BlueQ Analytics is a leader in healthcare inventory solutions. It gives you a competitive edge by obtaining an efficient, reliable, and robust analytics system. BlueQ Analytics could take your hospital inventory to the next level by providing access to:

  • Spend and volume reports
  • Pars management reports
  • Accessible from multiple devices
  • Stock/bin rotation metrics
  • Predictive reports (e.g., out-of-stock and surplus)
  • Huddle board
  • Labor/time management dashboard
  • Data bin sizing
  • Data spend management

Analytics are a game-changer as they streamline the process from your manufacturer down to when someone pulls inventory from the supply bins.

4. Consulting With Other Vendors

Pre-pandemic, it is likely you had many trustworthy and reliable vendors. The FDA has released a list of common medical inventory shortages. Some of the more common shortages that clinics and hospitals are contending for include:

  • Gloves
  • Gowns and surgical apparel
  • Laboratory reagents and testing supplies
  • Specimen collection
  • Ventilators

Re-assess current vendor contracts and consider backup plans. These might include local vendor contracts, increasing the number of national contracts, and adjusting inventory cycles. While local vendors might cost more money, it is worthwhile as a backup for emergent supplies needed daily in your clinic or hospital.

5. Hold Regular Staff Meetings

While it seems simple, one of the best ways to start improving your inventory management system is by holding regular staff meetings or daily huddles. All individuals working closely with inventory should have adequate training on standard work and new or updated systems to ensure the systems run smoothly.

Everyone is involved in inventory, from nurses to people delivering supplies. Discuss the importance of supply chain shortages and ask for everyone's help not to waste, misuse, or disregard supplies, as this is important to keep up proper patient care.

For example, on average, insulin has a shelf-life of 28 days after opening. Afterward, the potency starts decreasing, and it is too difficult to determine accuracy in insulin delivery.

Current research is looking at ways to expand insulin storage, but consistent-temperature storage may be used for longer than 28 days. Talk to your staff to ensure supplies are fully used and discuss medications that have short shelf lives to reduce costs and medical waste.

Improving Your Healthcare Inventory Management

These five simple guidelines will help you improve the hospital’s inventory management; it is time to get started. At BlueBin, we specialize in streamlining inventory systems and reducing long-term costs with the goal of an increase in overall efficiency.

We offer unique POU replenishment systems, smart devices, analytics, consulting/education, and continuous improvement. Do you need supply chain consulting? We have you covered.

Re-ordering medical supplies is a challenging field to navigate without help from professionals. Contact us today and find out how we can improve your hospital's inventory system.


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