Inventory Management and COVID-19: How a Stockpile Audit Can Help
By Angela McNally, Vice President Provider Solutions, Owens & Minor
In the early days of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals quickly stockpiled as much inventory as possible. With global supply chain constraints and uncertainty about what the future held in the fight against COVID-19, they might have sourced products that were not part of their typical inventory. As healthcare systems continue to navigate COVID-19, their inventory levels might be out of alignment.
Throughout COVID-19, healthcare providers have taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to securing the necessary inventory to treat patients and keep staff safe. As we navigate the different phases of the pandemic, many providers now have capacity to take a step back and right-size inventory levels.
Conducting a stockpile audit is a great avenue to create visibility of current stock and to help plan for whatever the future might hold. It’s essential for healthcare providers to understand what products they have and how they plan to use it. Defining processes for inventory management now can save wasted product and potential shortages in the future.
Hospitals, however, don’t necessarily need a full, financially auditable physical inventory. The times are just too challenging to conduct one. Instead, hospitals should look to outsource a physical inventory to someone that will supply the resources to provide detailed information on existing inventory and identify tangible methods for driving supply efficiency.
The following points are just a few potential results from a stockpile audit:
- Identifying what steps are needed to maintain optimal inventory levels
- Providing visibility into where stock adjustments are needed
- Showing out-of-date items that need to be removed
- Finding opportunities to better manage space
As hospitals continue to ramp up elective surgeries, it is more important than ever to have the right mix of product to care for these patients as well as COVID-19 patients. That means they’ll be managing a bigger mix of product at a higher volume. Visibility is the key to addressing any potential challenges—that’s why a stockpile audit can be an important first step. Most importantly, once healthcare providers have the data visibility, they can use that insight to ensure they have the right product at the right time that will enable them to provide the best possible patient care.