As a healthcare provider, storing and tracking the medications you have on-site is incredibly important for eliminating extra costs, meeting regulatory requirements, and of course, keeping patients safe.
But when it comes to keeping track of medications, many challenges can arise. In this blog, we’ll take a deeper look at some of these challenges and share our best practices for medication inventory management.
Automated Inventory Systems VS Manual Medication Storage
Depending on the clinic or pharmacy, medications can be stored in a variety of ways but it’s important to understand the benefits of automation in inventory control. There are many efficiencies to gain in time management, profit control, and accuracy that you may be missing out on with manual operations. Not to mention automation can be an easier way to meet DEA security measures.
Here’s how inventory automation can help…
Empower Your Staff
In general, implementing an automated system significantly frees bandwidth for your staff and allows them to direct their valuable expertise in other areas of the practice, rather than laborious inventory tracking. It is a helpful tool for improving accuracy and eliminating tedious and repetitive labor that often leads to mistakes. Automation limits the risk of human error and empowers your team.
Your inventory and supplies form one of the biggest capital investments of your practice which makes smart inventory forecasting a top priority. With an automated inventory tracking system your demand planning becomes instantly more manageable. More staff bandwidth and less tedious inventory counting lets your team analyze seasonal trends, industry variables, and long term goals to inform purchasing decisions.
The real-time inventory data that automation software provides significantly reduces the risk of bloated carrying costs or insufficient reserve. Ultimately, these factors facilitate a balanced supply and demand analysis so you can maximize your return on investments.
Even if stock counting is accurate by your staff, sometimes order entry into your system is faulty for any number of reasons. Handheld scanners and barcode technology that comes with automated inventory systems ensures smooth entry into your database.
Streamline Compliance & Security Procedures
It’s critical that your inventory is accurately documented in order to meet compliance regulations from agencies and programs such as FDA, 340B, and VFC.
You can eliminate the risk of compliance violations by implementing an automation system that monitors all transactions and dispenses. Having a comprehensive record of your inventory history is vital and improves your standing with agencies. With a biometric login to access these records you are also protected from undesirable activities and abuses.
Increase Patient Safety & Quality of Care
Inventory automation incorporates patient safety checks so you can track expired medications. With this visibility you can also avoid unexpected stock-outs that can negatively affect patient care by not having the proper medication for them when they need it. Lack of visibility can lead to misplaced devices and medical equipment, but with standardized medical inventory management staff can trace ownership of all assets to a centralized database.
Tracking medications received and in inventory is required by law, which makes it even more imperative that you are accurate with medication tracking. When drugs are first received, pharmacy personnel should verify all drugs received and ensure that there are no discrepancies between drugs ordered and drugs received.
Once medications are in inventory, you should utilize a drug inventory control system to ensure accountability and track drugs from purchase through administration or disposal.
Many of these systems, including AccuShelf, even offer real-time tracking and have the ability to recommend new orders, provide limits on excessive orders, and electronically place orders. Enhanced reporting capabilities also help keep you compliant with regulations around tracking and monitoring.
Wasted and Expired Medications
It’s inevitable that some drugs will expire before they can be administered to patients. Every drug that you put into inventory should be routinely reviewed for expiration dates. If medications are within two days of their expiration date, you should pull them from automated dispensing cabinets and storage to take them out of circulation. They should also be removed from any inventory management system so that they cannot be dispensed to patients.
Expired drugs can often be returned to the manufacturer for a full or partial refund. However, each manufacturer is different and has distinct guidelines around drug returns.
You can also destroy wasted and expired drugs through a waste management system that’s compliant with your state’s regulations. Many pharmacies and clinics outsource these duties to companies that specialize in disposing unused medications.
Medication Inventory Management
Keeping track of the medications you have on-site is an incredibly important and detailed job. Done properly, you will be able to cut down on unnecessary expenses, comply with all regulatory requirements, and keep patients safe by dispensing correct dosages and non-expired medications.
AccuShelf is an inventory management system that lets you streamline your inventory with the touch of a finger. With AccuShelf, you can:
- Make inventory control more efficient to reduce waste, loss, and discrepancies
- Standardize and simplify workflows across all medications, supplies, and vaccines
- Enhance patient safety with confirmation of correct doses prior to administration
- Confirm compliance with 340B workflows and regulations
Learn more about the best end-to-end solution for medication inventory management here.