Healthcare workers rely on medical consumables to perform all types of procedures, from life-saving surgery to conducting routine tests. With this in mind, managing the stock levels of these products is incredibly important.
The frequency with which consumables are used means that this task is not always an easy one. Continue reading to discover some top tips on developing best practices for managing medical consumables.
Keep an Inventory
Let’s start with the basics. All healthcare facilities, regardless of how large or small they are, need to keep an inventory of their medical consumables and supplies. This includes everything from disposable gloves to IV sets. Without an accurate inventory, your clinicians will essentially be approaching their work blindfolded.
Your inventory should include all the important information including stock levels, supplier information, description, and location.
Regularly Review Stock Levels
Once your inventory system is in place, that’s not the end of the story. By reviewing your stock levels on a regular, cyclic basis, you will quickly learn what medical consumables are most commonly used and which supplies are not in particularly high demand.
Having this information can help you make informed purchasing decisions. You will always have the right supplies and equipment on hand and can reduce costs by purchasing consumables that are less routinely used on a reduced basis.
Standardize Procedural Kits
It’s important that clinicians are able to readily access supplies and equipment, particularly in emergency situations. In response to this need, many medical equipment manufacturers now offer procedural kits. These specially designed kits contain all the resources that a clinician needs to treat a patient, whether they are undergoing surgery or being treated for minor cuts and bruises.
By purchasing standardized kits, you will be streamlining the process of procuring medical supplies, and keeping track of stock levels will become far easier.
Plan for Emergencies
Of course, even the best-laid plans can go astray. No matter how well organized your medical facility is, there is always the chance of an emergency throwing your stock levels out of balance.
The Covid-19 pandemic is an excellent example of this. Few people could have foreseen that Australia’s stock levels of masks and personal protective equipment would come under such strain. While you can’t always know what emergency is around the corner, acknowledging that there may be situations in which you need to act quickly is the first step in being prepared. Having well-established relationships with suppliers is another positive move you can make to plan for emergency situations.
Stay up to Date with Developments in the Medical Industry
Managing your medical consumables is not just about making sure that you have enough stock. It also involves ensuring you are able to treat patients with top-quality supplies and equipment.
The medical equipment industry is constantly evolving. New technology has led to the development of innovative equipment and devices, improving a clinician’s ability to treat patients. By staying up to date with changes in the medical industry, you will be able to identify new consumables and devices that will ultimately improve the level of patient care you are able to provide.
Involve the Full Healthcare Team
As the manager of a healthcare facility, it is likely your responsibility to monitor and update consumable stock levels. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek out the assistance and expertise of others in the wider healthcare team.
By consulting surgeons, for example, you will develop a better understanding of the types of supplies that they primarily rely on when treating patients. This knowledge can help you make informed decisions that are in the best interests of the facility from a financial and operational perspective.
No matter how organized and informed you are, your task of managing medical consumables will be near impossible without a good supplier.
There are hundreds of different medical suppliers out there, making the task of finding the right one sometimes difficult. Even if you have been working with your current supplier for a while now, it’s important that you are constantly researching the different companies that are out there. It may be that another manufacturer can offer you a better deal or has better options when it comes to servicing and support.
When researching suppliers, use all the resources at your disposal. This includes the internet and word-of-mouth recommendations from other healthcare facilities in your area. Consider not only the cost of consumables but the quality, warranty offerings, servicing plans, and how responsive the supplier is to your requests.
Develop a Good Relationship with Your Supplier
Finally, once you have decided on your supplier, it’s important that you develop a positive, professional relationship with them. As mentioned, the quality of patient care you are able to provide often rests solely on your ability to source quality supplies and equipment. You want to feel that your supplier has your back, is knowledgeable about the challenges and opportunities you are facing, and understands the importance of delivering medical consumables and assistance in a timely manner.
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