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Inventory Management Best Practice Tips

Source: Healthcare Purchasing News - March 2012

Managing inventory may not earn the second glance it typically needs to supply clinicians effectively and efficiently. So Healthcare Purchasing News asked a variety of experts for sure-fire tips to satisfy their clinical customers and to contribute to high-quality healthcare delivery. Here’s what they shared.

When working with an outside inventory-counting company, hospital personnel can take general steps in advance of the physical on-site count to ensure an accurate, timely inventory job is conducted - such as:

Depending on the type of inventory count being conducted, specific preparations by hospital employees will vary. For example:

For Count Sheet or Hand List, inventories:

For comprehensive inventory counts:

For hand-held scanner counts:

By taking a few extra steps prior to the actual on-site count, management can help to facilitate an efficient inventory count and to help minimize the disruption to the daily routines of the hospital.

Saraheta Bennett, Vice President, KMED Logistics, St. Claire Shores, MI

Mike Lajeunesse, Vice President, Sales and Operations, Medical Materials Inc. , Boynton Beach, FL

Some of these may be obvious to some. However, I am continually surprised at the simple ones that get overlooked.

Mike Neely, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Operations, The Optimé Group, Buford, GA

Thad MacKrell, Vice President, Commercial Technology Group, Owens & Minor Inc. , Mechanicsburg, VA

Nancy Pakieser, Director, Product Marketing - Healthcare, TECSYS Inc.

Andy Keller, Vice President, Inventory Management, Cardinal Health Inc., Dublin, OH

Visibility across the supply chain.

This starts with the understanding of basic physical characteristics such as "eaches," boxes and pallets and basic principles such as understanding lead time between partners or ensuring that the right ordering factors are in the system so partners can work to ensure that they have the right systems, structure and focus to keep the supply chain running optimally.

This includes the notion of providing accurate information about availability, in-transit information between partners both upstream and downstream, and disruptions, such as when the product will be back in stock and reasons for the disruption.

If they demonstrate that inventory practices are not optimal, consider adjustments such as low-unit-of-measure orders/delivery that can remove touch points in the supply chain, or par optimization, which examines cost and frequency of deliveries to help determine if order patterns or levels should be altered.

James Bach, Vice President, Inventory Management, Cardinal Health Inc., Dublin, OH