From Chaos to Order: Managing Medical Supplies in Hospitals

From Chaos to Order: Managing Medical Supplies in Hospitals
"I'm a nurse working at a small hospital. Our hospital isn't very big, so we've been managing our inventory manually. Recently, the time spent on inventory management has increased excessively, which has been a concern. There have been times when medical supplies needed for patient care were lacking or medical equipment wasn't in the correct place, causing disruptions in providing medical services."
- Nurse B from Hospital A

Inventory management is a critical task not only for general businesses but also for healthcare institutions. Proper inventory management in healthcare facilities is essential for smooth operations and patient safety, which requires meticulous attention. However, small hospitals like Hospital A may often overlook the importance of inventory management.

So how can healthcare institutions reduce the workload caused by inventory management and improve the quality of care for their patients?

Inventory Management for Quality Care

Medical institutions such as hospitals, clinics, and health screening centers manage the inventory of various medical supplies like bandages, gauze, gloves, and syringes. Depending on the type of medical institution, they may also have expensive medical equipment such as patient monitors, pacemakers, MRI machines, and CT scanners. Since these items account for the majority of expenditures in medical institutions, strategic inventory management is necessary, even for small hospitals.

In the case of small hospitals, many still manage their inventory manually, like Hospital A. While manual inventory management may seem practical at first (i.e. it doesn't incur additional costs), it has limitations in ensuring accurate and efficient inventory control. Without guaranteed accuracy in inventory management, those managing medical supplies at hospitals may end up purchasing duplicate items or not being able to find the necessary items at the right time.

Medical Supplies in Hospitals Need Strategic Inventory Management

Medical staff burdened by inventory management inevitably become less attentive to patient care, leading to a lower quality in medical services. If you find yourself in this situation, now is the time to start managing your inventory for quality care.

Hospitals that practice thorough medical inventory management significantly reduce the workload on medical staff related to inventory. They can secure the necessary inventory without wasting costs. It becomes much easier for anyone to find inventory and return medical equipment to its place. Ultimately, this creates an environment where better medical services can be provided.

Medical Inventory Management 101

Collecting Inventory Data

If you are new to medical inventory management, start by collecting inventory data. Examine the records you have kept manually or in Excel spreadsheets, and count all the inventory you currently have. By reviewing how many medical supplies you use in a day, a week, a month, or a year, you can create an inventory management plan that suits your hospital. An inventory management plan helps reduce unnecessary expenses and aids hospital operations.

Collecting Data is the First Step to Creating an Inventory Management Plan

Organizing Item List

An "Item List" is the basis for proper inventory management. It is particularly important for medical institutions that are dedicated to saving lives to manage inventory based on an accurate item or product list. The item list should include the item name, purchase price, purchase date, category, current stock quantity, safety stock (minimum quantity), and location. Organizing your item information like this allows for thorough and accurate inventory management while helping to prevent the misuse of similar-looking medical supplies.

There are various ways to create an item list. You can manually write it on a piece of paper, or you can use Excel spreadsheets to create a table. However, both methods have some difficulties in quickly sharing the latest information. A mismatch in information can arise depending on who has the most up-to-date version of the record or file.

To prevent this issue, we recommend using an inventory management software to organize the item list. Cloud-based inventory management software provides the latest information through real-time updates. Medical staff can easily check the item list from their PCs, tablets, or smartphones, no matter where they are.

BoxHero UI: Item List in Detail
One reason for organizing an item list is to prevent stock shortages or overstocking. To do this, you need to know when your inventory falls below the minimum required quantity. BoxHero's Inventory Management Solution sends a low stock alerts straight to your smartphone when the inventory falls below the safety stock level.
BoxHero UI: Low Stock Alerts

Attaching Barcodes to Inventory Items

If you've decided to use an inventory management software instead of relying on manual records or Excel spreadsheets, it's time to incorporate barcodes.

Attach barcodes to your items for more convenient inventory management. A barcode system is an essential tool for organizations aiming for a digital transformation in inventory management.

To create barcodes, you need to assign a unique identifier to each item. Based on the identifier, generate barcodes, print them on labels, and attach them to the items that need inventory management. Then, you can quickly check for the necessary information such as current stock levels, purchase dates, and locations just by scanning the barcodes.

BoxHero UI: Scan Barcodes

In medical environments where disinfection takes place frequently, it is best to use labels that are resistant to damage. The durability of labels can vary significantly depending on the type of label paper, so it is important to do your research and choose the right ones.

BoxHero offers a variety of features for building and using a convenient barcode system. Click here if you want to learn more about all the barcode features, from barcode creation to printing. If you are not yet a BoxHero user, we recommend trying our free online barcode label printing service.

Inventory management plays a crucial role in every business, but for medical institutions, it goes beyond merely storing and organizing supplies. It ensures patient safety, increases convenience for medical staff, and improves the operational efficiency of the hospital. If you want to start managing your medical inventory, click the button below to join BoxHero.

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