Seek Change: Inventory Management using RFID Technology

There are many different strategies that can be used to improve inventory management in the hospital.  This recent article appearing in Health Purchasing News provides some great tips on improving your current inventory management by using a more analytical and value based approach to cycle counting.  By focusing on zero count items and using ABC/Pareto principles the seemingly overwhelming and time consuming task of keeping accurate inventory counts seems more achievable.

While there are many different strategies that can be used to chip away at the waste created by excess inventory none of them seem to get to the root of the problem.  That is the continued practice of manually counting items which perpetuates the time consuming use of human resources and inevitably leads to inaccurate, latent or obsolete information.  Inaccurate data is a liability that leads to stock outs, excess inventory, expired devices and worst of all wasted time by employees trying to keep the data even remotely accurate.

Health care is often labeled as a laggard when it comes to innovation and already thin budgets are feeling the effect of waste more than ever in light of the current economy.  Competing capital projects and limited resources hold some care providers back but often the biggest factor driving lack of adoption is a mindset – a feeling that keeping the status quo is the easiest and cheapest option.

RFID technologies have been receiving a lot of attention lately in the health care industry for its ability to take the guesswork out of inventory management by eliminating manual processes.  Perioperative Services at NY Presbyterian Hospital saw exactly how valuable having timely and accurate inventory data could be after implementing Mobile Aspects iRISupply system.  By analyzing utilization and inventory level data and combining that with purchasing patterns from their enterprise materials management system they were able to identify an immediate opportunity to reduce existing on hand inventory and adjust PAR levels.  When it was all said and done the organization was able reduce on-hand inventory by $230,000.

Surely there are many health care organizations out there today who are on the front end of the innovation cycle.  However, more of that attitude is dramatically needed if we are to continue to eliminate waste from health care.  Whether it is using RFID technology to manage supplies or another application of technology, we look forward to more care providers making a commitment to seeing change happen.