Inventory management issues in healthcare is nothing new. For years hospitals, pharmacies and other care facilities have seen expensive inventory go to waste, and unused meds tie up valuable storage space. Expiry date limitations and too much stock make this issue worse.
Shockingly, £300million of unnecessary costs are absorbed annually by the NHS because of poor medicine stock management and avoidable prescribing errors.
We go into more detail about this stat in our report on the human and financial cost of medicine wastage and prescribing errors.
Here, we look at common inventory medical challenges and how a smart stock management system can overcome them.
Inconsistent data and errors in spreadsheets
Of course, the main focus of pharmacies and hospitals is patient care, but in a busy environment, medicine stock management can be a challenge. Tracking medical supplies and equipment involves lengthy spreadsheets or a pen and paper list and over time, it’s easy for these types of systems to become inaccurate and unorganised. This typically leads to more time and money spent on unnecessary inventory related tasks and less time focusing on more important things, like looking after patients.
With a cloud-based medicine stock management system, you’re almost eliminating this risk of error straight away. Pharmacy technicians and clinicians can accurately track entire medical inventory while keeping tabs on critical information such as supply stock levels, medication expiration dates and equipment maintenance details. There’s no room for inconsistencies.
Most medications and supplies expire, and keeping these around can be dangerous, not to mention accidentally issuing them to patients.
A medicine stock management system keeps track of these dates so you don’t have to, enabling you to dispose of expired supplies.
A stock management system enables staff to monitor inventory from the time of purchase to issue and sends out alerts when an item is about to expire. An effective system will not let you prescribe expired medication, meaning there’s even less risk of human error. This also avoids expensive legal claims (especially if the patient is harmed).
Consistent stockouts or inability to meet demand
While many medical supplies see relatively consistent use patterns, others can spike or see lulls. So you want to make sure you can always keep up with demand and not over order. It’s critical for healthcare facilities to have reliable stocks, especially for emergency-use items.
A medicine stock management system like ExPD’s Medicines Inventory Control System (MICS) keeps track of every asset you have and will enable regular real-time audits. You can use this to better estimate demand and avoid overstocking – for instance by seeing something is low in stock or has been dispensed frequently, you can tell you need to order more.
Disorganised stock management
With such an important job to do, medical equipment and medicine supply must be well maintained.
Over stocking of items takes up valuable space, likewise, a messy supply area or medication storage area can be a serious obstacle to healthcare stock management. From lost revenue due to misplaced supplies to not having an ability to tell how much of a certain item is available, disorganisation is a bad situation for any supply room.
Pharmacies and hospitals often struggle to keep up in busy times, making efficient stock management not just helpful, but critical.
The ExPD MICS (Medicines Inventory Control System) report revealed that cost savings could be made and patient care improved through the use of better stock management systems for medication. Click the link to read!