Pharmacy procurement and purchasing managers in hospitals and health systems are tasked with balancing numerous requirements. It is their duty to work within budget parameters while ensuring that patients receive optimum care. They also face growing challenges as costs rise and new regulations are introduced. Timely, accurate and detailed medication inventory data is a key input that enables supply chain managers and pharmacy leadership to work together, making informed and intelligent decisions that help achieve their goals.
Manual workflows and processes in medication inventory management are not only cumbersome and slow, but are also inadequate when it comes to gathering intelligent data. When staff is tasked with tracking, logging and replenishing inventory manually, the resulting reporting is one or all of the below:
- Inaccurate because human errors are naturally bound to occur
- Incomplete because processes were not followed or only certain items were logged/tracked
- Out-of-date because manual tracking is not real-time
In contrast, true real-time automation systems such as the Intelliguard® RFID solutions platform, not only simplify workflow processes for medication inventory management, but also provide historical reporting that is complete, accurate and real-time. Purchasing and pharmacy managers use this data to optimize inventory and prioritize patient safety while simultaneously cutting unnecessary costs. Below are three strategies that procurement and purchasing teams can use, working with their pharmacy leadership, to support cost-saving and quality patient care measures.
Right-size Based on Utilization History
According to the article “5 best practices for new supply chain leaders” in Healthcare Finance News, efficiency maximization and inventory optimization is a key consideration to get new supply chain leaders moving in the right direction. “First, take a look at your materials department. Are they ordering the right quantity of materials to match the volume used by the hospital staff without compromising patient safety? Are they getting supplies to the appropriate departments on time? Next, you should minimize excess inventory. This has a direct and easily seen impact on the bottom line.” But how do you know what amount is the “right quantity”?
RFID medication management solutions such as Intelliguard® RFID use radio frequency identification technology to track detailed, item-level drug-level usage. Usage is tracked automatically every time an item is removed from an RFID-enabled cabinet, so there is no need for manual intervention. These usage analytics are evaluated by the pharmacy to determine correct inventory levels, save unnecessary inventory holding costs and reduce expiry waste.
>>Read Sharp Memorial Hospital Case Study: “Inventory Management with RFID Reduces Costs, Improves Efficiency and Increases Safety”
Maximize Usage and Efficiency
Even with the best optimization strategies, nationwide drug shortages or spikes in need can lead to situations where there is the danger of a shortage in one area while the same drug in another part of the same health system is nearing expiration. Without the proper visibility to real-time inventory levels it would be nearly impossible to effectively manage these anomalies across a multi-site health system, or even between departments within a building.
The innovative RFID capabilities of the Intelliguard® Solutions allow pharmacy staff to view par levels along with real-time inventory across various systems and swap meds between facilities as needed to maximize use.
>>Read blog: “Surviving Drug Shortages with Improved Inventory Management”
Ensuring that drugs don’t expire unused is an important step in inventory management that can help to reduce medication waste and control costs. Unfortunately, the process of tracking expiration dates for individual medications across various locations is often manual, difficult and time-consuming. With the Intelliguard® RFID System the pharmacy team is not required to track expiration dates manually. Customized limits can be set to trigger notifications for soon-to-expire items. Reports show where each item resides throughout the facility, and real-time inventory and par levels for each cabinet at each location; therefore items can be shifted and moved to maximize usage based on need and prior to expiry.
In addition to expiry, depending on the Intelliguard® RFID solution selected, secure access systems also reduce waste from diversion, and temperature controlled systems reduce waste from temperature excursions.
Data You Can Trust
Having complete, timely and accurate data you can trust is the prerequisite to ensuring the right drugs are available at the right time, and to answer the questions posted by the Purchasing Procurement Center article “Manage Dollars, not just Materials. While in a hospital setting, critical stocks must be available in the right place at the right time, many healthcare organizations currently fail to analyze what is the right place and how much is required where.”
Intelliguard® RFID offers a suite of hospital pharmacy automation solutions that provide enterprise-wide real-time visibility and historical reporting. Pharmacy leadership gains unprecedented insights, allowing them to support Pharmacy Purchasing Managers’ recommendations for cost-saving and quality patient care measures. Contact us to learn more.