Hospital Inventory Management for More Efficient & Connected Hospitals

Hospital supply chain shortages and delays have become more common, which increases the importance of proper hospital inventory management for achieving the best patient care. In 2021, the needs of healthcare providers shifted significantly: Mobility has become a necessary tool for clinicians. This shift towards clinical mobility was researched and documented in Zebra’s 2022 Hospital Vision Study, which found that 89% of executive decision-makers and 83% of clinicians surveyed agree real-time intelligence is essential for optimal patient care.

In the article below, we dive into the study's top 3 trends:

  1. Hospital Inventory Management and Asset Tracking
  2. Hospital Automation
  3. Hospital Telehealth & Cloud Technology

Hospital Inventory Management for More Efficient & Connected Hospitals

The Vision Study from Zebra Technologies showed that more than two-thirds of hospital executives still don’t feel their organizations are investing enough to maximize staff efficiency and more must be done moving forward. The hospital supply chain is a prime example of an area that can help integrate processes to make hospital staff more efficient by asking them to do less instead of more.

Many healthcare facilities are choosing to evaluate and implement clinical mobility to achieve real-time, accurate data about their hospital inventory. That means making investments to implement more efficient hospital supply chain management systems and processes to take more of the load off their staff.

“Thanks to the adoption of clinical mobility, hospitals around the world are eliminating manual, error-prone procedures and replacing them with digital solutions that increase the accuracy of patient identification, streamline processes, improve the quality of patient care and enhance overall visibility,” the report states. “By digitally capturing information, data can be transmitted in real time to clinical staff, reducing — even eliminating — errors and delivering critical time savings.”

What is Clinical Mobility? 

Clinical mobility is defined as the use of mobile devices - such as handheld mobile computers and tablets - by healthcare professionals. Zebra’s last survey of the healthcare community in 2017 found that most mobility investments were focused on bedside nurses to provide access to electronic health records (EHR) and ease staff communications. For 2022, hospitals are looking to technology to help them manage the supply chain, locate critical equipment and assets, and orchestrate emergency and operating room logistics. Factors that are driving the investment of patient outcomes are:

  • Improved patient outcomes
  • Increased staff efficiency
  • Reduction in the cost of patient care
  • Compliance with new regulations

Zebra joins us on this episode of On PAR to discuss the survey results and industry trends. Check it out!

Vision Study Top 3 Trends 

As 2022 approaches, clinical mobility investments are estimated to increase by 76%, with more than 98% of clinicians utilizing mobility. Here are three inventory hospital management practices you can expect to see trending in the healthcare supply chain next year:

1.  Hospital Inventory Management & Asset Tracking

Limited and inconsistent data remains a significant barrier for many hospitals. Technological strategy and connectivity are being required across all functional areas in healthcare. Every department, whether clinical or nonclinical, is seeing an increase in real-time location systems (RTLS) for inventory management. Inventory visibility becomes even more critical in an unexpected and emerging situation.

Hospital inventory management and asset tracking are key areas of investments that link clinicians to the supply chain. The connection between clinical need and supply chain is a standout trend that will continue to increase in popularity. Using a mobile solution, 82% saw boosts accuracy of supplies tracking and inventory management and 83% said they plan to implement workflow automation to manage the supply chain in the next year. Knowing the location and status of assets and equipment is critical to making smarter, in-the-moment decisions and remaining adaptable.

“More and more, systems inside and outside the hospital are becoming connected and [are] transforming the healthcare delivery system, creating high-efficiency workflows that minimize errors and reduce costs. 

2.  Hospital Automation

As the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) accelerates, more sophisticated technologies like radio frequency identification (RFID) and RTLS are increasing in popularity.  In fact, 97% of hospitals expect dynamic workflow notifications to be sent to mobile devices by 2022.

Automation can also provide analytics and automated reporting, which allows providers to turn their data into action. A great example of the power of automation is using analytics to drive periodic automatic replenishment (PAR) demand replenishment.

Maximum daily usage can be derived from data to determine an optimized PAR stocking level. These PAR level adjustments can eliminate excess and obsolete stock. Oracle Cloud can use automated workflows to automatically process PAR replenishment data and produce a demand planning report with recommended adjustments to current PAR levels. More information about PAR can be found in our PAR Best Practices Guide

3. Hospital Telehealth & Cloud Technology

With more data than ever being available to clinicians, it’s imperative that hospitals maximize the usefulness of these data streams by using an integrated systems approach. For many, this means moving their operations from an on-premise ERP solution to a cloud solution. Not only is this important for real-time visibility, but it is also integral for accessibility as well. With telehealth and remote work becoming more popular, having access to data outside the four walls of the hospital is vital.

Cloud technology also allows IT teams to remotely manage and update mobile devices through a mobile device management system (MDM). Using an MDM, IT teams can update firmware and perform updates in a matter of minutes from a PC. This saves time and removes the headache of having to touch every device to manually perform security updates or settings.

Additional Resource:  Building your Healthcare Supply Chain Strategy in the Cloud

Hospital Supply Chain Management Can Transform Patient Care

It is important that clinicians know they are going to have exactly what they need, when they need it. That could mean the difference between a successful operation or even saving a patient. It also gives clinicians one less thing to worry about so they can focus on their patients, helping morale and reducing turnover at a time when turnover in hospitals has skyrocketed to 19.5 percent. Nobody wants to be in a position where they're not sure if they have the right tools for the job, but especially not someone who is working with people's health and lives on the line.

Clinical mobility enables hospital staff to do their job faster, easier, and more accurately. It also helps to cut down on training time for new hires, as instructions for tasks can come straight from the device interface. Inventory management software solutions such as RF-SMART give stock technicians, nurses, doctors, and hospital administration complete visibility into supply levels and replenishment status in the one and only 'source of truth' - your ERP. 

Now is the time for widespread adoption in hospitals since not only nurses and IT decision-makers see the benefits, but [so do] the new generation of patients that welcome and expect technology to be part of their healthcare treatment.”

Mobility is becoming the new standard in patient care. RF-SMART offers the ability to extend the power of Oracle Cloud SCM to a mobile handheld scanner. We provide specific functionality developed with the healthcare end user in mind, such as multi-line receiving, PAR management, and mobile delivery.

Listen to our podcast episode on this topic for a deeper dive.

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