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Hospital Supply Inventory Management Creating a Cottage Industry For Technology

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
07/31/18  10:05 AM PST
Hospital Supply Inventory Management

By Rachel Z. Arndt for Modern Healthcare

Within every hospital, supply problems are likely to lurk. Often, they’re problems of too much: too many sutures, too many surgical staplers, too much of too many items. Hospital staff, distrustful that they’ll have what they need when they need it, err on the side of excess.

But that’s beginning to change, as hospitals and health systems employ software with predictive analytics for inventory management. That way, they can forecast demand, reaching a Goldilocks level of supplies.

“The natural tendency is to just buy an entire mountain of inventory,” said Rick Conlin, a partner in the Advisory Board Co.’s spend performance solutions team. “Turning to some of these enterprise research tools gives them the ability to more confidently knock back some of that inventory and supply chain costs.”

Users of these inventory management tools will have to integrate them into their existing systems, and they’ll also have to learn to trust the data. That’s beginning to happen more, as ever-mounting costs are putting pressure on providers and health system staff to act.

The return on investment is fairly straightforward: As health systems use more advanced supply chain software, they free up cash, which they might use to buy new equipment or hire another physician—activities that generate revenue.

“If you can reduce the inventory you have on hand, it really can have a positive financial impact,” said Rob Austin, associate director at Navigant. And, he added, “if you’re managing your inventory more closely, you won’t lose it, it won’t become obsolete or expired, and you can run a more efficient operation.”

Simple to complex solutions

To do that, hospitals are implementing solutions both low- and high-tech. At Spectrum Health, for instance, supply chain staff manage inventory using statistical models in Microsoft Excel and Minitab.

Read the Full Article on Modern Healthcare