For inventory managers and inventory techs in hospitals, the cycle counting process for reconciling inventory can be a time-consuming burden. On top of managing day to day activities to keep their departments fully stocked with inventory, they have to carve out time for this labor-intensive activity. Typically, these cycle counts happen once per quarter – sometimes more, sometimes less. Depending on the frequency of stockouts, some inventory managers may elect to do more frequent reconciliation, even as often as weekly for items that tend to stockout the most.
While extremely time-consuming, cycle counts are necessitated by the way that we track our inventories. Barcoding and other manual or semi-manual systems require cycle counting because they are inherently inaccurate. When a user removes an item from inventory without recording that transaction in the system, inventory counts are immediately thrown off. As more users forget to record the removal of items from inventory, the accuracy of inventory counts continues to degrade. More often than not these manual systems think they have more items than are actually in stock, leading to frequent stockouts.
If cycle counting of items and frequent stockouts of high velocity or high value items are an issue at your hospital, consider RFID technology as a way to improve your processes. Systems such as iRISupply eliminate cycle counting activities by using RFID technology in smart cabinets to provide a perpetually accurate view of inventory. All items stored in the RFID smart cabinets are automatically recorded as stocked or removed, so understanding how many items are currently on the shelf and how many items need to be re-ordered becomes a simple task that can be completed from the comfort of your desk. This real-time data allows hospitals to minimize and even eliminate stockouts by knowing exactly the right number of items to stock based on consumption data. Powerful, built-in analytics from the system also allow for continuous improvement by providing real-time statistics about your inventory. For example, you can identify slow-moving or unused items that may need adjustments, leading to a more efficient and profitable operation.