Many hospital supply chain and inventory management systems have room for improvement. In fact, the known bug bears come at a high price in terms of staff time, resources, patient safety, budgets and lost income.
In discussion with our customers, we’ve come up with the most common areas of weakness in hospital inventory supply chains.
So how does your hospital or ASC fare against these criteria?
Top Ten List of Hospital Inventory Management System Weak Points
We regularly speak to hospital staff involved at all levels of perioperative nursing and materials management.
All of them have frustrations relating to their hospital inventory management systems, and we’ve compiled a list the most common areas that hospital staff feel need improvement.
So here we go, the Top Ten of hospital inventory management fails:
- Time-consuming perioperative itemization workflows
- Too much nurse admin on logistics activities
- Patient safety compromises due to system inefficiencies
- Fears over UDI compliance
- Gaining a perpetually balanced inventory, without stock outs or surpluses
- Simplifying and streamlining inventory
- Reducing medical supplies and hospital inventory wastage
- Reducing inventory costs
- Keeping the Item Master List up to date
- Achieving 360˚ vision for hospitals and vendors
It’s quite a list and yet the story is the same in most hospitals we visit.
It’s clear to us that hospitals and ASCs share the same medical inventory challenges.
And that’s because most hospital inventory management systems don’t provide the level of support required by hospitals, and in particular, don’t perform well in the complex surgical setting.
Improving hospital inventory management by tackling common problems
Let’s take a closer look at the Top Ten healthcare inventory management fails:
1. Too much nurse admin, lack of time for patients
The first two involve perioperative nurses who have to take on logistics responsibilities on top of their clinical workload.
Feedback suggests that the clunky systems in surgical settings are becoming a burden to busy circulatory and perioperative nurses.
At a time when healthcare organizations are desperately trying to retain their nursing staff, giving perioperative nurses a heavy admin workload can result in low levels of job satisfaction and can increase the risk of losing key staff.
So, let’s look at some of their frustrations.
Nurses report back that at the end of surgery they have a pile of packaging that they are unable to successfully scan during the procedure. Maybe the barcode did not pick up full data, perhaps the SKU did not match up in the Item Master, maybe it was a trunk stock item. Whatever the cause, the existing workflows are simply not working.
At the end of surgery, there are far too many utilization exceptions which need follow-up, workarounds or long-winded, key-in tasks, in order to successfully record the item. The sad reality is that, with very little time for admin and a back-to-back surgery schedule, many of the items in that undocumented pile of packaging simply won’t get recorded.
And that brings us on to our next two concerns.
2. UDI and Patient Safety
Recording itemization isn’t just a good thing to do – it’s a regulatory requirement.
Hospitals are legally tasked under FDA UDI regulations with tracking all medical devices, implants and consumables used in surgery. The UDI data needs to be tracked at all stages of the supply chain and especially at the point of use.
Failure to record an item means that the nurse and the hospital are non-compliant. But more importantly, it puts the patient at risk.
Without full UDI charting there is no digital link between the patient and the item, without this vital audit trail there is no easy way to contact patients in the event of any future recall.
In addition to recall issues, failure to notice an expired item can also have disastrous effects.
The point of use inventory tracking systems and procedures in surgical rooms have to protect nurses and patients. They need to ensure full digital UDI documentation plus flag up any expiry or recall issues prior to consumption.
Hospital systems must achieve two important patients safeguards:
- Prevent ‘Never-Events’ at the point of use
- Ensure quick and easy recall management
These are basic and regulatory requirements and hospital inventory management systems must be robust enough to deliver in these areas.
Another area of concern, which also has an impact on patient safety, is the availability of the right product, in the right size, at the right time. Inventory control is all about tracking the full medical supplies and making accurate restocks that result in a balanced inventory.
If there are stock outs then patient surgeries get cancelled, and that puts patient lives at risk.
So how can hospitals improve their control and management of medical inventory?
3. Improving Supply Management in Healthcare
Automated hospital supply chain management systems take the guesswork out of materials management decisions.
Any system used in OR and Procedure Rooms needs to be interoperable, so that hospital systems are updated with the stock and hand and utilization data.
Automating hospital management provides real-time visibility of stock, real-time usage tracking plus helpful data reports and insights. This data informs management and adds precision to systems, for example it ensures accurate PAR levels are set. Ultimately the aim is for data-driven decision making that delivers a perpetually balanced inventory.
Another big gain of having a visible inventory is getting joint vision between suppliers and hospitals. This common understanding of stock levels and usage brings an end to discrepancies and disagreements, opening the door to different supply chain options, such as pay-per-use consignment.
Automated medical inventory management systems bring an end to intuition-based restocking, which too often results in surpluses and stock outs. Adding accuracy into the medical inventory reorder process brings an end to unnecessary items being ordered that just sit on the shelf getting ever closer to their expiry date.
Gaining control of medical inventory boosts morale among nursing staff. When nurses have all the items they need at hand, they no longer need to run around the hospital, hunting for missing stock. This renewed confidence in being able to get the items they need when they need them, will finally allow then to stop hoarding products.
As well as clinical benefits, there are also significant financial gains to be had.
4. Reducing costs. Reducing waste.
Gaining real-time inventory visibility and data insights means that a streamlined medical inventory can be achieved. Having accurate data to hand means that more efficient supply chain decisions can be made and the overall inventory spend can reduce.
Getting control of the medical inventory reduces financial wastage, as surplus items are no longer restocked. Reorders consists purely of replacing items that were used. This precise ordering brings an end to surplus orders and means that fewer items are likely to expire before usage.
Having cost of surgery reports and data insights can open up discussions between hospital managers and physicians on the range of items on their preference lists. PPIs can carry extremely expensive items and there is usually room for streamlining the supply chain and adding economies of scale. Armed with data insights, these conversations are far easier and more likely to result in movement on the part of physicians.
5. Perpetually up-to-date Item Master
The Item Master List drives the whole inventory management process. It’s the source document for all hospital inventory management workflows, so ensuring it remains up to date is vital in order to allow the smooth flow of the supply chain.
In reality it’s an ongoing battle. Vendors change SKUs all the time. Hospitals broaden their supply base in terms of new products and suppliers. Non listed items such as consignment and trunk stock by-pass the item master.
The lack of match between a scanned SKU and the item master results in tedious workarounds, repetitive key-in jobs and a lot of frustration.
So how can hospitals ensure that the Item Master is not a barrier to successful SKU and UDI capture in OR and Procedure Rooms?
There’s just one single solution that tackles ALL the Top Ten Inventory Management Fails
IDENTI Medical understands surgical spaces. We are familiar with the frustrations of perioperative staff. We know all about the deficiencies in current systems. And we’re experts in health-tech! So, we put all our knowledge and expertize together to develop Snap & Go.
Why Snap & Go is your Surgery Room Solution?
Snap & Go is an award-winning tool for your surgical spaces that uses patent-protected image recognition technology to record all medical implants and consumables.
This award-winning tool is especially designed for OR and Procedure Rooms. Fully records ALL items – whether on the item list or not – including trunk stock and consigned items. SO quick and easy to use. It takes just 3 seconds to snap each item! Snap & Go achieves full and effortless UDI and charge capture and all data synchs to EHR, ERP and MMIS systems. No SKU is left unrecorded!
Our management software checks SKUs against a global manufacturer catalog list and is supported by an advanced machine learning algorithm. In addition, our back-office staff who provide an automatic Item Master maintenance service – updating missing information and correcting bad data.
Full UDI data is displayed in the Snap & Go attached screen
How Snap & Go addresses the Top Ten Inventory Management Fails
Let’s review the ten most common inventory fails in hospitals and see how Snap & Go addresses each and every one of them.
- Streamlines perioperative workflows
- Significantly reduces nurse time spent looking for items and recording usage at POU
- Boosts patient safety with real-time expiry and recall alerts
- Full UDI capture in EHR for ease of future recall management
- Delivers real time supplies visibility and a balanced inventory
- Streamlines inventory
- Accurate restocking prevents wastage. Expiry control ensures soonest to expire items are used and not wasted
- Reduces inventory at hand to just required items, streamlines supplier base, reduces costs
- Links in to a global SKU database that updates the hospital’s item master
- Joint inventory vision for vendors and the hospitals
It’s time to let leading technology give your hospital supply chain and inventory management systems a boost and take the strain off of busy perioperative nurses.
Let Snap & Go reduce the time and effort you spend on inventory management, while at the same time improving accuracy, saving costs, increasing reimbursement and improving patient safety.
Take a look at Snap & Go in action on this short video clip.
Contact us for a demo.