Hospital Inventory Management: Best Practices for Managing Inventory Levels

When dealing with supplies and inventory in hospitals, there are many different practices which management may decide to use to keep track and keep inventory levels on supplies up to date. Which methods and which practices are used in each hospital will depend on: management decisions, the size of the hospital and the amount of inventory which it usually keeps on hand, the type of inventory management which staff has been trained on and is used to dealing with, and whatever other practices which the hospital and management staff believe are in the best interest of the hospital.

Some of the best practices in hospital inventory management are similar to the kinds of methodologies which are used in the production materials management industry. These practices in hospital inventory management generate the same cost reduction and improvements in service levels which are typically seen in the manufacturing industry. In the past hospitals were only interested in managing the material; Today, however, managers and staff are also looking to manage expenses, materials, and the human capital involved to measure inventory levels.

To best manage inventory levels hospitals have to consider the dollars and cents, not just the level of materials they have on hand. Because it is a hospital, and you can never tell what patients will need, it is better to keep higher stock of material just in case it is needed. Many organizations do not analyze the right place for inventory to be kept, how much it costs to keep it, and how much is really required. To properly manage the inventory, all these considerations need to be taken.

Hospitals must also take into consideration the cost of materials, not just the actual price tag. The costs in procuring materials including, ordering and shipping costs, are critical for managers to be able to truly calculate the inventory on hand. Setting up integrated policies for staff to follow is another key. Using centralized ordering systems will help to keep the inventory levels under control. These policies on ordering limits and times, will keep all staff aware of what is on hand, and what will be needed next time ordering dates come around.

To maintain the best inventory system in hospitals, all aspects from actual amount in stock, to costs involved in storing inventory, to shipping costs need to be considered. For the best practices set policies on ordering, minimum levels to be kept, and all inventory and costs for the entire hospital staff.

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