Written by Marla DiCarlo
For medical operations of any kind, including retina clinics, inventory is one of the primary expenses. The costs of maintaining an inventory are on the rise, but not having what’s needed at any given time can create serious implications in the medical industry.
There has to be a balance between cost control and preparedness. For any medical facility, the risk of having drugs that don’t work properly, are expired, or aren’t available can be deadly. For retina clinics, injection medications are especially costly and there are risks such as a product being unusable because it’s gone past its expiration date.
Many facilities still use outdated management methods, such as spreadsheets. This only increases the potential problems that can occur with medical inventory management, particularly since management is complex and includes administrators, providers, insurance companies, regulatory agencies, and patients.
Here are 3 essential tips you can do to ensure that your retina clinic inventory management is effective.
1. Keep Track of the Asset Lifecycle
As with other medical supplies beyond what’s used in a retina clinic, keeping track of the asset lifecycle is critical. In recent years there have been a number of valuable new retina-related treatment options receiving FDA approval which is good news for patients and providers, but these drugs increase inventory management complexity, and they’re often very expensive.
The first component to keep in mind here is an investment in only quality medicines and injections. Low-quality medications are likely to spoil more quickly. If for some reason you end up receiving medications from a drug company that’s not what you ordered, be sure to return it and get your money back rather than accepting it. Do not settle on medications!
Each dose should be trackable, from the time an order is placed to the time it’s given to the patient. There should be protocols and measures in place to properly plan for future needs of the patient and account for those in the overall asset lifecycle. When an order is received, the person in charge of inventory management should make sure it’s intact, was delivered in the appropriate condition, and that the expiration date is correct.
As part of keeping track of asset lifecycle, employees need to be held accountable. There needs to be a point person who heads up inventory control in a retina clinic, along with a well-defined inventory and asset management policy, and consequences for noncompliance. Having protocols in place will only help stay on top of the lifecycle of your inventory.
2. Utilize a Tracking Software
If you lose a few injection doses, your patients may be at risk. At minimum, it can be financially costly for your company. Retina dose tracking software can alleviate the concerns and risks that come with retina inventory management. For example, a good software platform will streamline the process of creating orders and dispensing it to a patient.
Tracking software also takes much of the element of human error out of the equation. When you’re relying on a manual database, you’re putting your clinic at serious risk because of the potential for inadvertent human error.
Tracking software should include features that will easily integrate with the software you’re already using for practice management as well, such as your billing platform.
When you use an advanced tracking system like ArbiMed Retina, you can make sure you’re maximizing your reimbursements and keeping up with possible pricing increases without ordering and spending more than you need to.
3. Review at the End of Every Month
Even with a tracking system, you should have at least two people review your inventory each month. This allows for more oversight and labeling of assets. Asset tags should be assigned to everything, and these should be uniquely assigned, rather than being based on the serial numbers from the manufacturers which are often duplicates of one another.
Include a physical count of drugs at the end of each month as well, making sure to remove anything that’s damaged or spoiled.
To sum up, key goals of effective retina inventory management include understanding the challenges, using an automated retina dose tracking system, holding employees accountable, and doing a proactive review each month to improve oversight and decision-making.
Marla DiCarlo is an accomplished business consultant with more than 28 years of professional accounting experience. As co-owner and CEO of Raincatcher, she helps business owners learn how to sell their business so they can get paid the maximum value for their company.