April 30, 2018

5 Ways Medical Inventory Management Makes Doctors’ Lives Easier

Written by
Momina Sohail

The need for medical inventory management

Hospital admissions are reaching a record high globally. This is a result of the steady increase in the average worldwide life expectancy, an aging population in developed countries, and greater access to healthcare for all. Because of this growth, the healthcare sector is struggling to keep up with the increasing costs and demands thrown its way every year. Coupled with a lack of process, this means that it can be quite hard for medical institutions to comply with regulations, improve returns on investment, and fully optimize workflows.

To tackle these issues, hospitals often use medical inventory management software to improve overall efficiency. This can benefit the entire hospital team: custodial staff, administrative bodies, doctors, and even patients. One of the most important members of the hospital team, of course, is the doctor. They have hard jobs, and they’re only getting harder as hospitals become more crowded. About 1 in 2 physicians report having at least one symptom of burnout. This can lead to dissatisfaction, poor quality of care, and even medical errors.

So what can be done to alleviate some of the pressure off hospital doctors? This article will take you through 5 ways a medical asset management solution can make doctors’ lives a whole lot simpler!

#1 Save time through automation

Doctors have stressful lives. A lot hangs on their precision, mental acuity, and ability to make good decisions. This is why anything that helps make their work easier is hugely beneficial to the healthcare industry in the long-term. Around 47 percent of doctors already use digital technologies at work to aid in their duties – whether it is communicating with patients or having access to technical information. But where does hospital asset management fit into this?

Imagine the administrator who has to put together a list of tools and equipment needed for each appointment, assign them to specific doctors, and compile reports on utilization or maintenance for each department. With automated hospital inventory management, you can forgo spreadsheets and paper trails for online records. Things can be made even quicker by tagging all inventory items with a unique barcode or QR code. This way, staff can easily scan medical tools to maintain a reliable database and improve processing times. All of this enables doctors to speed through operational bottlenecks and focus on what’s really important – their patients!

#2 Have medical assets on hand when needed

Doctors tend to deal with multiple emergency situations daily, a lot of which require the use of expensive medical equipment such as PET scanners or infusion pumps. These have a limited lifespan, and need to be cycled out to be compliant with medical standards. Due to a constant inflow of patients, hospitals should have a robust system in place so that replacements can be procured on time. This is useful both for costly assets that have to be ordered well in advance and high-volume items that need to be replenished constantly.

In addition to this, doctors also need a way to book certain medical instruments and assets ahead of time. This ensures no resources are wasted trying to find replacements at the last minute. Luckily for doctors, both procuring and booking assets becomes extremely easy with the help of a medical asset management software, eliminating bottlenecks across the board.

#3 Improve equipment reliability

Hospital equipment needs to run under all circumstances. Of course, plans have to be made for unexpected situations like power outages, but let’s not forget regular maintenance either. Structure maintenance in a way that reduces interruptions by using a software solution to plan repair and service sessions well in advance. A scheduled maintenance regime can help:

  • Decrease downtime for machines and equipment
  • Improve operational efficiency through routine inspections
  • Lower overhead costs through reduced premature replacements
  • Increase safety and quality control in hospitals

All of this enables these assets to meet compliance and regulatory standards, which is crucial to the continued trust in hospital services. This takes a lot of pressure off doctor’s shoulders, helping them maintain confidence at their place of work.

#4 Eliminate expired medicines or injectables

It is not uncommon to see hospitals housing pharmacies to speed up patient care. These store and dispense a variety of items including drugs, injections, and IV fluids. Medical stock has a limited shelf life, after which it needs to be disposed of properly. Some items even need to be kept at certain temperatures, and within specialized storage units, to protect them from damage.

Not having a system in place to track and easily identify problem medications encourages bad practices. For example, a recent study by Cardinal Health showed that around a quarter of all hospital staff had seen or heard of expired products being used on patients. This is a worrying statistic, but luckily, it’s also something that’s easily avoidable.

A medical inventory management system enables staff to monitor inventory from the time of purchase to consumption, and sends out alerts when an item is on the brink of expiry. It therefore ensures best practices and helps doctors avoid costly malpractice suits related to this.

#5 Bolster security through inventory check-ins

Hospitals are complex institutions, catering to all kinds of patients. For this reason, they are flooded with numerous types of tools and machines with very specific functions, storage instructions, and specifications. Without a reliable software to organize these different items, things can get lost, broken, or misplaced quite easily. Due to a lack of a proper check-in and checkout mechanisms, things can also be misused fairly easily. Such actions can become problematic for doctors and cause blockages in workflows.

To prevent such incidents, standardized medical inventory management allows staff to trace ownership of all assets to a centralized database. This makes it easier to track and monitor tool usage as well, lowering the chances of fraudulent activities. With a tight security system in place, doctors can carry out operations as planned without the hassle of lost tools and instruments.

Medical Inventory Management: Streamlining Healthcare Workflows

While it is true that the health sector’s uptake of inventory automation was initially slow, other factors like the use of electronic health records show promise for cloud based companies. This trust in electronic and cloud-based records is really encouraging.
This is why the time is just right for hospitals to invest in a cloud based inventory management system. It is clear that these institutions need more than just a simple spreadsheet to track the usage and custody of medical assets. They already face increased wait times, the misuse of equipment, poor record-keeping, and significant bottlenecks.

Automated inventory management can help healthcare institutions avoid a lot of these challenges relating to costs, productivity, security, and more. This takes a lot of administrative burden off doctors and provides them with the tools they need to improve the quality of care for all their patients.

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Momina Sohail works as a Communications Manager at EZOfficeInventory, a medical asset management software. She is interested in the way technology interacts with contemporary business culture, enabling businesses to focus on core efficiencies.