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4 Tips to Create a More Efficient, Accurate ASC Inventory Management Process

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Ann GeierInventory management can have a significant impact on a surgery center’s profits.

For facilities that take the time upfront to properly load their systems, valuable case costing insight can help managers determine whether a case makes financial sense. With data in hand, managers can easily monitor and respond to pricing changes. Inventory management also can help facilities avoid needless cancellations and delays by ensuring all necessary supplies are readily available when needed...and these are just some of the benefits associated with inventory management.

Despite the financial and operational benefits associated with inventory management, too many facilities are foregoing the use of inventory management systems simply because they don’t take the time upfront to properly load their system. In other instances, facilities that have inventory modules are not using them to their fullest potential. Either way, facilities that are not properly tracking inventory are needlessly losing money.

The following tips will help surgery centers create a more efficient, accurate inventory management process.

1.    Don't procrastinate. Inventory management systems should be loaded prior to a facility opening. For facilities that are already up and running and in the transition from paper to electronic documentation, supplies should be loaded into the system prior to the go-live date.

2.    Pay attention to the details. Purchase orders should be unique, organized in a numerical system and reconciled with a corresponding packing slip and invoice. The accounts payable procedures and policies should be clear. Information should be entered on a daily basis.

3.    Require staff compliance. Clinical staff must be committed and held responsible for ensuring any supplies they use are updated within the inventory system either via scanning or some other tracking mechanism. To ensure staff compliance, assign someone to oversee and champion the process.

4.    Put reporting processes in place. Collaboration between the administrator and the materials manager is essential. Develop facility guidelines that dictate when an administrator should be alerted to supply issues. Because supplies hit an administrator’s profit and loss statement, information such as why supply costs have increased is needed to explain to the board when expenses are higher.

For a surgery center to achieve financial success, inventory management must be a priority. With the proper system and processes in place, centers can expect to see a decline in operational expenses and an increase in profits. Additional benefits associated with inventory management systems include consistent documentation in one central location, greater efficiency and improved staff productivity.

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