inventory management check-up

7 Ways to Perform an Inventory Management ‘check-up’ at Your Retina Clinic

Given all the reimbursement hoops there are to jump through and the significant costs associated with injectable medications, it makes sense that today’s most efficient Retina practices take inventory management very seriously.

Whether it be determining par levels and creating purchase orders or tracking expiration dates, effectively managing your inventory can help your clinic be both more efficient and profitable.

Below are 7 ways for you to perform a quick ‘check-up’ of your inventory management process.

1. Consider utilizing technology.

While tracking your inventory manually with the use of spreadsheets and paper logs may seem to be working well, you might be surprised to learn just how much time can be saved by automating the process.  Furthermore, in the event of a manufacturer’s recall or insurance audit, having an inventory management software program will allow you to access data in a fraction of the time. These days software solutions are much more affordable, however, before choosing one be sure to do an assessment of exactly what your needs are and research options.

2. Be sure that expiration dates are being tracked effectively.

manage medical inventory
Expiration tracking is a critical issue for many medical practices

Discovering that you have expired drug on hand is enough to drive even the most seasoned providers mad.  To avoid this scenario it is best to use a first in, first out method. By clearly identifying expiration dates you’ll make it easier for technicians to determine which medications should be dispensed first.  Be sure to review this process with your staff periodically.

3. Review your vendors and options.

Is one of your suppliers frequently late with shipments or almost always experiencing backorders?  Which vendors make ordering easy? Just like employees often receive an annual performance review, do the same with your suppliers.  Be sure to identify areas where they meet your needs and where they fall short, then discuss these issues with them. Doing so may result in positive changes or finally convince you that it is time to explore your options.   

4. Have a consistent process for receiving items.

Does each staff member receive and process incoming shipments differently or do you have a standard procedure that everyone follows?  Even small discrepancies can make a big difference and cost your practice both time and money when your numbers don’t match up. Take time to observe how each staff member takes in new stock, identify any discrepancies and then outline a process for all to follow with input from the group.

5. Review purchase orders and decide who can place orders.

It may sound simple, but when multiple staff members are able to place orders, your inventory can get away from you very quickly.  By determining who is authorized to place orders and requiring the use of a purchase order each time, you will be able to better track who ordered what and when.  If too many people are ordering, it may be time to delegate.

6. Determine if your PAR levels are sufficient.

Using a PAR (Periodic Automatic Replenishment) level system you will determine the minimum amount of inventory you need on hand for each medication, for a specific period of time.  Depending on how often you order from your distributors the time period could be monthly, weekly or even daily. When your staff notices that the number of doses on hand has fallen below that minimum level, it is time to reorder.  You may discover that it is time to increase or decrease the minimum level accordingly.

PAR Levels inventory usage trends and recommended action
PAR levels system, such as ArbiMed monitors all transactions in real time. It shows product usage trends & vital metrics and recommended action

7. Consult with colleagues.

One the best things about the Retina industry is that it is such a tight knit community.  When travelling to conferences and meetings, be sure to schedule time to meet with colleagues you think highly of and learn more about their approach to issues such as inventory management and ordering processes.  Chances are that others have dealt with many of the same scenarios you are experiencing and will gladly share their insights with you.