There’s a growing trend to add automation to Kanban and PAR inventory management in the healthcare sector. This blog explores:
- The downside of manual medical supplies management
- The benefits of automized Kanban and PAR in healthcare
- Kanban and PAR automation hacks – the easiest route to digitalized supplies management.
- Examples of the benefits of Kanban and PAR automation in healthcare.
Manual Kanban and PAR systems are a common method of managing medical supplies in the healthcare setting. These systems typically pull nurses into supply chain tasks, in order to ensure the continued availability of general medical supplies.
As automated inventory management becomes more common in the healthcare sector, there are a number of ways to automate an existing manual Kanban and PAR system. This upgrade of existing storerooms rather than purchasing new shelving or bins, makes the task of automating supply chain management in nursing units so much cheaper and simpler.
Before we look at automation options for adding automation to Kanban and PAR systems in healthcare, let’s first take a quick look at the constraints that a manual system puts on the effective management of hospital supplies.
The downside of manual medical supply management
Manual Kanban and PAR does not provide the precision or efficiency that materials managers increasingly need. Three big issues with manual medical supplies management are:
- Inaccuracy: Manual systems often part of a ‘best guess’ culture and so are prone to human errors which lead to stockouts, overstocks, and wasted supplies.
- Inefficiency: Manual systems require a lot of time and effort to track ever-changing inventory levels and plan procurement. The process often involves busy nurses, taking them away from patient care.
- Lack of visibility: Manual systems do not provide real-time visibility into inventory levels. This can make it difficult to stay a step ahead of demand, and ensure continuous supplies are available.
“Busy nurses want easy access to supplies and an end to stockouts”
While manual medical supplies management is adequate for certain supplies it offers insufficient accuracy for many vital inventory items.
The benefits of automated Kanban and PAR in healthcare
Automated Kanban and PAR systems offer a number of benefits over manual systems, including:
- Precision: Manual systems operate via repeated inventory rounds and any figures recorded are out of date in minutes. Automated Kanban & PAR systems eliminate human error. providing real-time accurate inventory data that supports informed procurement and supply chain decision-making.
- Efficiency: Digital Kanban and PAR systems reduce the time and effort spent managing medical supplies. With many materials management and nursing teams struggling with fewer staff, improving individual and team capacity is a big benefit.
- Visibility: Automated systems provide real-time visibility into inventory levels. This allows hospitals to identify potential problems and make necessary adjustments quickly. It supports enhanced expiry and recall management, as well as improved forecasting.
- Cost savings: Automated systems can help hospitals to save money by reducing waste, streamlining the inventory, improving vendor contracting and generally improving efficiency.
Automated Kanban and PAR technology supports supply chain efficiency.
The way to digitalize an existing hospital Kanban and PAR system
Implementing a digital Kanban or PAR solution involves both hardware and software.
There are a number of ways to automate manual Kanban and PAR systems. Some of the easiest routes include:
- Digital tags: Adding digital RFID tags to existing inventory bins or shelving, is a simple and effective way to automatically track supply levels – no changes need to be made to the supplies space, A small digital tag is fixed to each bin or shelf, and then programmed with the item’s SKU data. Digital Kanban tags provide accurate supplies tracking and automated requisitions are triggered when stock reaches the preset order point.
- Mobile apps: Where digital tags are not used, there is still the option to use RFID tags, with management undertaken via a mobile app. The app is used to scan the RFID tags on bins or shelves and offers a convenient way for staff to manage inventory on the go.
- Digital Weight-Based PAR bins: Weight Based PAR is becoming more popular but it was previously only available in cumbersome bars or units – which wasn’t practical for smaller supplies spaces. Now, finally, weight-based PAR has been set free – with IDENTI creating the first ever wireless, digital PAR bin, offering the accuracy of weight-based par with complete flexibility.
Examples of the benefits of Kanban and PAR automation in healthcare
In a case study on IDENTI Medical’s automated Kanban and PAR solutions at Sheba Hospital in Israel, the hospital installed a hybrid Kanban and PAR solution:
Their challenges included inaccurate and high-frequency orders that were hard to manage, disorganized storerooms, and the over-involvement of nurses in supply chain activities.
After a full review of the new automated Kanban and PAR solutions, the following benefits were identified by the hospital:
- Time spent by logistics staff on the ward reduced by more than 50%
- Time spent by nurses on inventory orders reduced to 0
- Nurse satisfaction increased from 53% to 90%
- Consolidation of orders led to a decrease of 57% in the number of orders
- The hospital embraced data-driven ordering, resulting in restocks that matched demand.
“There was a reduction of 86% in nursing time spent on supplies organization.”
“Time spent by logistics staff decreased from 2 hours 41 minutes to 1 hour 13 minutes per day.
Hassle free Kanban and PAR automation
Automating Kanban and PAR provides healthcare organizations with more data for less effort.
This vital inventory data drives through supply chain efficiencies and cost savings.
Automating a manual Kanban and PAR system doesn’t need to be disruptive. It can be easy as adding a small tag to your existing inventory bins and making no changes at all to your supply room layout.