Virtual inventory management in healthcare turns storeroom shelves into digital spaces, improving inventory vision and control. Read on to discover:
- What is virtual inventory management?
- The business benefits of automated inventory management
- The main features of TotalSense Mobile – a virtual inventory management system
- A comparison between smart cabinet and ‘virtual cabinet’ management
Many healthcare providers use smart cabinets to manage their high value medical devices and implants. But what if the same technology could be applied to the management of inventory stored on the shelves?
Virtual inventory management is a growing trend that reduces inventory rounds and puts an end to manual counts. Instead, digital stock monitoring is achieved via mobile devices, with the data being fed through to managing software.
This quicker, more efficient data gathering process provides accurate inventory vision with minimum effort.
How it works
TotalSense Mobile is a virtual inventory management solution that is accessed via a simple-to-use app which allows you to:
- Count and itemize all products in a store room
- Locate a specific product in your inventory
A mobile device connected to a cloud management system improves the visibility, control and management of inventory in hospital and surgery center storerooms and supply spaces.
How to count stock items
Scanning is simple – just press the scan button and point the device at the products, scanning along each shelf.
As the device passes by each item’s RFID tag, the item’s details will appear on the app.
Any item can be clicked on to view more details about the product or to remove it from the count.
At the end of the stock count an inventory report is created on the IDENTI Platform, the system’s managing software.
What used to be a labor-intensive, time consuming manual count, now just takes a few minutes and achieves accurate results.
How to locate specific stock items
If you need to find a specific product, the IDENTI Platform can signpost you to the item’s location, and the app will indicate exactly where it is in that supply space.
Locating items in a store room is easy, simply type a product parameter into the app, for example the catalog number, batch number, RFID Tag ID – and then scan the shelves.
When the item is located your device will beep and the app will display a green bar.
And that’s it! Item located! No hunting down stock. No manual scanning of the shelves.
Interoperability with other healthcare systems
When introducing new hospital inventory management systems or ambulatory surgery center software, one major concern is to ensure easy integration with existing IT infrastructure.
The best IT inventory management software is interoperable, ensuring all the valuable data captured can be easily shared with core healthcare systems such as the ERP, EHR and MMIS.
Cloud inventory platforms offer the best solution for healthcare providers, providing increased flexibility and plenty of opportunity to scale up in this data-thirsty age, where more and more data is required.
Many providers are searching for healthcare inventory management solutions that can help them to handle supply chain disruptions and boost efficiency and cost savings. Cloud based supply chain management is the foundation for future flexibility and growth.
Single platform healthcare data management solution
TotalSense and TotalSense Mobile share a single management system, so if healthcare providers use both systems, then inventory data from the cabinet and the shelves can be accessed in one place.
TotalSense solutions provide accurate inventory vision and keep you informed of usage, so that procurement can be based on a real understanding of the stock situation.
IDENTI’s unique single cloud platform is also used for other solutions, like automated Kanben & PAR and point of use surgical capture.
Having one cloud platform for multiple systems is easy to integrate into the IT healthcare infrastructure and provides a single system for all inventory management data.
IDENTI Platform inventory reports
The IDENTI Platform stores all data captured via the app and collates it into useful metrics, reports and analytics. This vital supply chain data provides real-time vision, informs decision making and improves planning.
Let’s take a look at two reports:
The Inventory by Batch report is stored on the IDENTI Platform and provides a detailed list of all items scanned, including product details and item location.
This report includes all stock items and updates the system of any change to item location.
If an organization has TotalSense smart cabinets as well as TotalSense Mobile, the system reporting can be set up in two ways:
- As a combined report
- As separate reports
However, you set up your reports, one major benefit is that the flagging up of soon-to-expire items, so that these can be prioritized for earliest usage. Expiry and recall alerts prevent the accidental usage of unsafe stock items and reduce wastage costs.
The Tracking Removed Items report displays all items removed from the storeroom.
This data is basically a gap-analysis showing all the items removed from the shelves since the previous scan.
It enables you to monitor stock items that were previously monitored manually with digital precision.
The business benefits of inventory data
Data-driven inventory management reduces the labor involved in monitoring and ordering stock, and delivers many business benefits:
|Improved vision:||Accurate data captured from smart cabinets and virtual cabinets enables healthcare providers to gain accurate visibility of their surgical medical supplies. The system accurately tracks the availability and usage of stock items, medical devices and implants across an organization.|
|Increased Efficiency:||By managing their stock virtually, healthcare providers can streamline inventory levels and reduce waste. In addition, digital stock control eliminates the need for physical inventory counts, and reduces the number of lost or misplaced items.
TotalSense Mobile uses a ‘Min-Max’ supply chain management system, which records the minimum quantity of each item that needs to be maintained in stock, when this point is reached it serves to trigger a restock order, to prevent a stock out. The restock will bring the stock up to the maximum level – the upper limit of stock that is required for an item.
By setting appropriate minimum and maximum thresholds, healthcare facilities can avoid excessive stockpiling and associated costs while still having an adequate supply on hand.
|Reduced Costs:||One of the most significant benefits of virtual inventory management is the cost savings it offers.
Healthcare providers can reduce their inventory costs and minimize the manpower required to monitor and control stock.
Full data helps to identify areas of waste and supports cost-reduction activity.
|Improved Patient Care:||Being able to easily locate surgical items saves significant time and automation lightens the supply chain burden on nursing staff, freeing them up to focus on patient care.
Virtual inventory management ensures that healthcare providers always have the necessary stock at hand so that patients can receive timely treatment, which contributes to better outcomes.
|Enhanced Productivity:||The automation of inventory management tasks is a time and resource saver – a very attractive benefit during the staff shortages that have characterized the post-COVID era.
This means that healthcare providers can run the materials management function on a reduced workforce and that clinical staff can focus on patient care rather than inventory management.
|Improved Compliance:||Healthcare providers must comply with various regulations and standards when managing their inventory.
Virtual inventory management can support healthcare providers by ensuring their compliance.
Accurate item identification, real-time stock visibility and perpetual item tracking helps healthcare providers to identify and address potential compliance issues quickly.
Improved vendor contractual options
When there is a clear picture of both stock levels and usage figures between all supply chain stakeholders, this opens the door for enhanced contractual arrangements, which could be a real cost-saver.
Successful consignment inventory management relies on a digital system that provides all stakeholders with real time stock vision and item level tracking. Consigned stock can be stored in automated smart RFID cabinets or in virtual inventory cabinets – or why not go hybrid and use both? It’s a great way to cater for different types of stock and manage inventory and OR supplies in several locations.
The transparency achieved from inventory tracking software improves trust between supply chain partners and can open up a wider range of contractual options, for example, consignment arrangements.
Consignment management is when a vendor places their products in a healthcare provider’s facility and only invoices them for the products that are actually used.
Reduced costs and lower risk
TotalSense Mobile enables healthcare providers to align their ordering patterns with actual demand. The system supports a streamlined inventory with reduced costs by:
- Preventing the accumulation of stock that isn’t required
- Avoiding unnecessary inventory costs
- Minimizing the risk of expired or obsolete products
Where TotalSense Moblie has enabled consignment arrangements to be set up, this ‘pay-per-use’ system reduces costs and assures easier cash flow. In addition, this way of working removes risk for healthcare organizations, as the responsibility for stock moves from the provider to the vendor. This means that the vendor is responsible for any obsolete or expired items and the wastage costs are theirs to bare.
Automated inventory management systems that provide a consignment solution for the hospital supply chain facilitate enhanced contractual arrangements that can have significant business benefits.
Comparison of TotalSense and TotalSense Mobile
TotalSense Mobile is a ‘virtual cabinet’ that provides similar benefits to a smart cabinet.
Let’s take a look at the difference between the two systems by comparing TotalSense to TotalSense Mobile:
Virtual inventory management is a game-changer for healthcare providers. It can work as a standalone system or be used in conjunction with smart cabinets. Where a dual system is in place both will be managed under single cloud software.
Adding automation to inventory management increases efficiency, reduces costs, and improves patient care.
Virtual inventory management requires the right system and tools to be effective and deliver full and accurate data. IDENTI’s TotalSense Mobile is a valuable tool that improves healthcare supply chain management and business performance.