Healthcare is expensive, not only because new medical technologies make it so, but because there are inherently inefficient systems in place in traditional “paper and pencil” models of inventory control. Inventory, in this context, means patients. But, hospitals and doctors’ offices could dramatically reduce their costs if they were willing to make a few simple tweaks.
Using The Right Software
Before an organization can tackle inventory management, it needs an extensive and comprehensive software application to automate key components of an asset management system. This system, in part, should be comprised of good inventory management software along with hardware, which can help staff enter data quickly and move patients through the healthcare system at the right pace.
Tracking Medical Devices
Tracking medical devices helps reduce overhead costs while reducing the need to replace equipment that has mysteriously gone missing. Medical devices, especially durable medical equipment, can be costly to replace, yet these items are staples of hospitals.
Wheelchairs, canes, and walkers, which assist recovering patients, can all be easily tracked using a simple barcode or QR system, or a SKU system which can track items and allocate them to designated zones or locations within the facility when not in use.
Tracking Patients and Medicine
Patient tracking and medical errors can be improved through the use of asset tracking and inventory management software. In a 1999 study conducted by the Institute of Medicine, it was estimated that 98,000 people die every year because of mistakes in hospitals. Some newer research suggest that the number is much higher, however, placing the figures between 210,000 and 440,000 patients harmed each year.
Patients who are harmed in this manner suffer some type of preventable illness or injury which contributes to, or directly causes, their death.
These statistics should be sobering, as it means that medical errors would be the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
These types of errors can be significantly reduced through the use of objective and audited tracking software, which is synced to patients in hospitals undergoing treatment.
By tagging patients on their body, and by implementing regular audits, accidents and mistakes can potentially save lives.
Medical records, meds, patients, and reasons for visiting, as well as complete medical histories, can be digitized and brought up on a computer screen for doctors and staff to reference prior to care. Patient mix ups can be reduce through bar code or QR scanning via a wrist or ankle bracelet, eliminating the need for manual entry.
A somewhat unusual, but highly productive, way to use asset management software systems is to track employees and support staff. By modeling workflow, when employees clock in and out, and predicting patient loads, hospitals and doctors can better manage their practices, reduce waste, and provide better service without necessarily making dramatic changes to staff or overall operations.
When patient load is down, for example, support staff can be shifted to other important areas. Of course, if staff is not needed, reductions in staff may be necessary, but more efficient transitions to inherently lean departments will keep employee moral high without compromising the integrity of patient service.
Max Gardiner is an assistant stockroom manager. He likes to share his insights on the internet. You can find his articles mostly on business and management websites.