Three ways to avoid over-ordering surgical supplies

By: Angela McNally, Vice President Provider Solutions, Owens & Minor

As healthcare providers continue to navigate COVID-19 while also providing elective and scheduled surgeries, they are facing an influx of new and unpredictable inventory demand. In this time of transition, there can be a natural tendency for hospital departments to take the cautious approach and over-order product rather than risk being out of product or being short on product, which can then present its own budget and storage challenges. The following steps can help providers address uncertain supply needs without over-ordering. 

1) Maintain regular communication with suppliers. 

In times of unprecedented demand, many departments might be concerned that suppliers or distributors might not have adequate product, and order extra inventory as a result. But this is not actually the best strategy for ensuring a secure supply and can lead to wasted product or physical space being used to store product that might not be needed.  

Communicating with a supplier about anticipated needs or potential shortages is the best way to ensure that the supply chain will remain intact while still anticipating potential challenges. What’s more, distributors and suppliers want this sort of dialog and information so that they can adequately plan as well and avoid over/under stocking product on their end of the supply chain.

2) Ensure appropriate staffing levels. 

One of the best ways to ensure processes run smoothly is staffing appropriately across the facility. As surgical procedures continue to ramp back up, a team that's built up of both clinical and non-clinical staff can help support the supply chain. Having the right staff in place to manage the additional demand on the purchasing and value analysis teams can help make sure that they’re prepared to pick the right supplies with as much ordering accuracy as possible.  

Having that right staff with the right expertise to manage different aspects of the supply chain can be challenging. That’s why hospitals are increasingly turning to services like Owens & Minor’s PANDAC. PANDAC enables hospitals to outsource one of the more tedious aspects of the supply chain, sutures, and endo-mechanical products. With PANDAC, hospitals get a dedicated person who manages all facets of their sutures and endo-mechanical, from maintaining proper inventory levels to ordering product to providing detailed, actionable reports on ways to lower costs.

3) Maintain supply chain visibility.

During these times, accurate counts and visibility might take a back seat to sourcing and securing inventory. But they shouldn’t. Visibility into inventory levels is critical in ensuring you have the right inventory levels on hand. Visibility by itself, however, is only part of the answer. The other part is taking that data combined with historical trends and future forecasts to determine the right mix of product to meet the needs of your patients.

One way that hospitals are maintaining that visibility is with a supply chain solution like Owens & Minor’s QSight. With QSight, users gain deep visibility into their supply chain and can quickly see critical supply chain information like inventory levels, items below PAR, products nearing expiration, and so much more. And with that visibility in hand, users can make better, data-driven inventory decisions, such as what products to order and when.  

Addressing ongoing COVID-19 risk while providing other types of procedures will require proactivity, patience, and planning. While over-ordering can be a common occurrence in a time of unprecedented and unpredictable demand, there are steps that healthcare providers can take to feel confident in their supply. The three recommendations above serve as an effective foundation for a secure supply chain, and Owens & Minor can help you continue to take control of your inventory so you can continue to focus on patient care.    

Owens & Minor leverages people, processes, and technologies to provide worry-free inventory management for healthcare providers. 

To learn more, email us at omlearnmore@owens-minor.com.

To learn more about PANDAC, click here.

To learn more about QSight, click here.