Consumable Inventory & the Medical Field

Despite the medical industry operating as a regular for-profit business, they rarely work as such. Medical professionals are bound by their oaths to help their patients no matter what. This focus on patient care pulls them away from managing their business like a businessperson. Unorganized medical inventory management can cause delays in providing patient care, and in the healthcare industry, each second matters. Medical providers often overlook inventory management, especially consumable inventory. Changing regulations, patient relations, labor shortages, and fluctuating supply costs understandably take precedent. A medical inventory management system can be intimidating and overwhelming to the average doctor, nurse, or other medical professionals. After all, configuring and monitoring an advanced business management system is not what they’re trained to do.

There is a persistent notion that business owners of all kinds are saving time and money by not learning new software. They have convinced themselves that the time necessary and commitment to learning a medical or hospital inventory management system will derail patient care and take attention away from other operational concerns. This thinking causes difficulties in increasing the number of inventory items proportionately.

What’s more, the type of inventory a medical business or hospital has is far from the standard business model. Medical service businesses have stock tightly regulated by many government agencies, on top of perishable, condition-specific, and consumable inventory that all require special consideration. The need for inventory management software is not something that can be ignored forever. Eventually, it will be too much to track.

Medical Inventory Management & Consumable Inventory

Medical inventory management software (IMS) needs a higher level of functionality to help manage the different kinds of inventory. The most sophisticated IMS has “consumable inventory” as a feature. This feature is vital because consumable inventory is a special kind of inventory, how it is used, and how it affects a business.

What is consumable medical inventory? According to “Consumables include gloves, gowns, masks, syringes, needles, sutures, staples, IV tubing, catheters, and adhesives for wound dressing, in addition to other tools needed by doctors and nurses to provide care.” Consumable inventory’s unique nature is that there is no reusing it once used or consumed. One and done, as some would say. That is the critical difference between consumable inventory and all other forms of inventory.

Because of the temporary nature of consumable inventory, it can become a large portion of the overall budget. Not just in the amount purchased, but the operational costs associated with consuming a said item. Thanks to the COVID pandemic, new requirements for personal protective equipment have made consumable inventory an even more significant chunk of the operations budget.

female pharmacy worker manually checking her consumable inventory and comparing numbers manually with a medical inventory management system

Getting a Handle on Consumable Inventory

Understanding and controlling consumable inventory offers a host of benefits:

  • Companies can see what items get used the most, when and how it is used, and who uses it by tracking usage rates and trends.
  • By monitoring both high and low inventory levels, companies can make informed purchase decisions.
  • With a firm understanding of the supply chain, purchases and deliveries become quickly automated.
  • Aids in financial management as consumable inventory can be a considerable drain on revenue streams.

Ultimately medical inventory management software is required to tame the beast of consumable inventory. The amount of variables, items, and consistent calculations is too much for pad and pen. The selection process is often overwhelming with a litany of inventory management, supply chain management, warehouse management, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software out there. Knowing what to look for in software and selecting becomes easier when you understand what to identify.

Medical Inventory Management vs. Enterprise Resource Planning System

Your medical inventory management software should do more for your business than provide inventory levels. Often inventory management systems are just that, used for managing inventory. Other software incorporates inventory management into their overall functionality, known as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Medical ERP systems operate the same way typical ERP systems do with increased functionality to meet the medical industry’s demands.

Medical ERP systems can communicate with other modules that oversee accounting, finance, procurement, and other parts of the business to help provide critical data necessary to get a complete understanding of the state of the company. The network of modules communicating with one another is what we call a fully integrated ERP system capable of managing all business operations. Be warned. Many ERP systems cannot distinguish, let alone count, consumable inventory separately from regular stock. Having a robust inventory management module within an ERP system empowers medical business owners to spend less time gathering data and more time helping their patients.

Automation and Reporting

Other significant features to look for in a system are automation and reporting tools. Automation will enable businesses to have repetitive and mundane tasks such as placing monthly purchase orders, notifying patients of upcoming appointments, and receiving scheduled deliveries. Reports generate data, data is king in the business world, and the medical industry is no different. In this case, less about getting ahead of the competition and more about understanding how the business operates. As any hospital administrator will tell you, knowing how money flows within a facility is just as crucial as obtaining the funds.

medical management team reviewing reports

The Kechie Difference

Medical inventory management systems are suitable for small businesses with no expansion plans. But, a fully integrated ERP system is the best answer for businesses that need advanced solutions. My Office Apps are the creators of Kechie ERP, a cloud-based, fully integrated solution configurable to the medical industry’s needs.

The features discussed above are all present in Kechie out of the box, allowing medical businesses to:

  • Monitor and control all inventory types, with advanced consumption functionality
  • Streamline their supply chain
  • Automate tasks
  • Provide comprehensive reports from the hundreds available
  • Improve overall efficiency and quality of the business operations

My Office Apps is a company of dedicated professionals who use their expertise to make the process of implementing an ERP as painless and straightforward as possible. Contact us today to learn more about My Office Apps solutions for the medical industry, or schedule a demo to see first-hand what we can do for you and your business.