Feature Inventory Management

How Important is Inventory Control in Healthcare Facilities?

By: ImageFIRST Tips & Advice, Apr 7, 2021

Inventory control in healthcare facilities is of primary importance. Well managed and executed inventory control (or lack thereof) can impact facility operating costs, staff productivity and accountability, and overall peace of mind for patients as well as healthcare workers. It is therefore a vital element of a positive and seamless patient experience.

Healthcare facilities often face an uphill battle when it comes to managing linen inventory. From the smallest clinic to the largest hospital, it’s crucial to have inventory records that are managed as precisely as possible, especially when you’re trying to maintain proper levels of physical personal protective equipment (PPE) and pharmaceuticals. With the advent of the novel coronavirus, these needs have become even more emphasized, converting inventory control into one of the most crucial aspects of healthcare operation.

Efficient healthcare inventory management procedures are essential for smooth patient care and a remarkable experience. It is very important to have well-organized and tested operating procedures in place. Consider the example of bed linens, which are integral for keeping hospital beds clean and comfortable for patients undergoing treatment. Regardless of which inventory control process your healthcare facility uses, the solution must be capable, efficient, and reliable, even in times of heightened demand.

The Full Range of Hospital Administration Difficulties

Between PPE, scrubs, and bed linen lies a whole swathe of inventory concerns. Loss of surgical equipment, tracking expiration dates on pharmaceuticals, sorting medicines, changing curtains — all of these are equally important to your staff, your patients, and whether your healthcare facility presents a positive impression. Likewise, generating bills and creating reports based on hospital activity all need high levels of attention to detail.

It is for these reasons and more that inventory control is invaluable to every aspect of a healthcare facility. It can inform you when you have an anticipated shortage of certain pharmaceuticals and when you’ll need to dispose of expiring ones. It allows you to track your surgical equipment, medical devices, and other assets efficiently. It ensures that your staff always has a fresh, laundered pair of scrubs, so they can focus on their patients’ care instead of worrying about what they’re going to wear that day. This helps control costs, helps prevent the spread of infection, and helps to keep staff focused on what matters most: their patients.

Cost Savings

Inventory management directly impacts a healthcare facility’s bottom line. Fluctuating monthly bills and unpredictability when it comes to inventory can be a nightmare.

As an example, ImageFIRST provides a solution to this problem for medical scrubs and linens by working with healthcare facilities to create predictable, but flexible when necessary, inventory management programs. How do they do this? By understanding and assessing a facility’s needs based on patient volume. 

With this approach, you never worry that you won’t have enough gowns or linens to properly care for your patients or that you will receive an unexpectedly high monthly bill. ImageFIRST is completely transparent. Pay for what you need. Pay for what is at your facility. No games, no complex pricing.

ImageFIRST works to improve and simplify the lives of healthcare workers, including everything from linen inventory management to invoicing. A full service approach is instrumental to contain and manage costs.

Instituting Inventory Control Measures

There are multiple ways to institute inventory control measures at your healthcare facility. The first is to engage in inventory control directly. Facilities can establish an entire division or department to keep detailed records of inventory, often aided by inventory management software. This option requires high levels of resources to devote to such an endeavor, including hiring expert personnel or training existing staff.

In the event that this may not be feasible, either wholly or in part, healthcare facilities will choose to outsource their inventory control needs to third parties. This can take the form of an inventory management company that oversees the entirety of the facility, or it can be through specific partners that specialize in single aspects of the facility.

For example, ImageFIRST is one of the leading service partners for linen and laundry inventory management, providing a dedicated Customer Advocate to ensure that a facility has the exact right number of clean scrubs, bed sheets, pillowcases, patient gowns, privacy curtains, and more. When a facility engages with ImageFIRST, they know linen inventory control no longer needs to be something they have to think about, because it will all be taken care of for them

The Importance of Healthcare Inventory Control

In the end, its not only important that you choose the right partners for inventory management but also that you choose vendors that will add to the overall workplace culture and peace of mind. An investment in inventory management is an investment in the well-being and confidence of your staff. Your team should know that they will always have the supplies they need to perform their jobs at the highest level. A happy, confident staff can have a greater impact on patient experience than anything else.  

Healthcare facilities need to have access to precise and accurate information on all aspects of their inventory. From pharmaceuticals and medical devices to the number of clean hospital beds and how many disposable spoons are left in the cafeteria, all of this data needs to be available to ensure hospitals aren’t caught unawares by an inventory shortage.

Look for partners that leverage technology to aid you in having access to accurate inventory readings. For example, ImageFIRST tags all their scrubs and lab coats with safe and proven UHF RFID chip technology, to give you automated tracking, staff accountability, and inventory tracking. ImageFIRST also uses the ScrubVAULT System, a scrub management system that also secures the scrubs and tracks which staff member took what.

Again, as the current post-COVID age has shown us mercilessly time and again, the lack of PPEa single respirator unit, or even sanitized linens could spell the difference between patients receiving the care they need or not. Inventory control protects you, your facility, and your patients. Make sure you choose the right inventory control partner to fit your unique needs.