The medical industry is one of the most important industries in the world. It is responsible for the health and well-being of billions of people. The industry is constantly evolving and improving, and new technologies are emerging all the time. One of the most important aspects of the medical industry is inventory management. In order to keep track of all the different products and supplies that are necessary for providing care, hospitals and other healthcare facilities rely on inventory management systems. These systems help to ensure that there are enough supplies on hand at all times and that they are being used efficiently. Let’s take a look at some of the trends that are shaping inventory management in the medical industry in 2023.
An Ever-Evolving World
Part of ensuring successful practices is inventory tracking. Having a reliable system in place to track every item used in medical procedures or kept on hand is essential for keeping healthcare operations running smoothly. With the effects of new technologies such as artificial intelligence being integrated into various aspects of healthcare, this tracking system can be more efficient than ever before.
With that kind of automated oversight in motion, medical personnel can spend more time devoting their attention to patient care, and less time manually taking inventory of supplies. Additionally, with an effective inventory tracking system, decision-makers have crucial information at their fingertips regarding what materials need replacing and when. This allows them to utilize funds efficiently and keeps costs from rising unnecessarily. Ultimately, modern inventory tracking is a powerful tool for the medical industry as it continues its rapid growth.
How Covid-19 has Affected the Supply Chain
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the world, and the medical industry is no exception. One of the main ways that it has affected the supply chain is by reducing the availability of materials, and the number of people working to process and transport supplies. Whether it’s a clinic focused on western medicinal practices or one taking a more holistic approach such as Alpine Clinic, shortages of supplies affect day-to-day operations.
Since 2020, we’ve seen more shortages of supplies, ranging from medications to masks. It’s harder than ever before to keep shelves stocked in order to meet the demands of the population. This requires a more robust and dynamic inventory tracking system in order to be able to provide those supplies when needed. Sequoia Group, a company that specializes in 3PL management for a range of industries, shares more insight on how Covid-19 has changed inventory and warehouse management HERE.
How Inventory Has Been Tracked Through the Decades
Tracking inventory in the medical industry is a complex task and can be done in several ways. What started as pen-and-paper lists has evolved to include sophisticated solutions.
Barcode scanning systems: These have been around for several decades now and involve using barcodes on products to track them quickly and accurately.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags: RFID tags are becoming increasingly popular in medical supply chains as they allow for real-time tracking of products throughout the facility.
Automated inventory management systems: The use of automated inventory management systems has become more widespread in recent years due to their effectiveness at tracking supply levels and predicting future needs.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems: AI systems are being used to automate and improve inventory management processes even further, by keeping track of usage trends, anticipating demand fluctuations, and providing predictive analytics.
With recent technology, barcode scanning has revolutionized the accuracy of stock tracking. Additionally, cloud-based software programs have been developed with user-friendly interfaces that make it easier to assess and analyze inventory numbers in real time.
While manual count methods are still used, they can consume a lot of time and lead to inaccuracies or discrepancies due to human error. High-tech processes such as radio frequency identification tags provide accurate evidence for important decisions about product management, including when replenishing stock is needed.
Overall, businesses should consider implementing comprehensive systems, such as those offered by Sequoia Group, that specialize in streamlined stock management for an effective means of tracking vital inventory data in the ever-changing medical environment.
The Rise of RFID
In 2023, radio-frequency identification (RFID) is predicted to be the most popular method of inventory tracking for medical facilities. RFID tags are small identifiers that can store information about a product and relay it to a receiving station, allowing facilities to instantly track items and access useful data such as the last check-in location and expiration dates. The advantages of using RFID over more traditional methods consist of improved accuracy, since the automated system eliminates room for human error in manual input, higher speed of data capture due to its non-contact properties, and increased efficiency as fewer employees are needed to manage inventory. RFID is also versatile; it has applications both outdoors and indoors in any kind of climate or environment with minimal maintenance requirements. This technology not only offers medical companies the opportunity to save time and money but also allows them to put resources towards their core competencies – bringing faster, better quality care to their patrons.
How the Medical Industry is Affected When Supply Chain is Disrupted
The medical industry is highly dependent upon a functioning supply chain and labor force to keep operations running smoothly and efficiently. If you’ve been to a doctor, dentist, or other healthcare providers in the last two years, you’ve probably been affected by the shortages being experienced around the globe.
Who’s Impacted by Supply Shortages
We’re seeing different industries being hit hard by a lack of access to medical supplies. According to FTI Consulting, here’s how the effects are being seen:
- Delayed or canceled elective surgeries
- Higher costs for goods and services
- Difficulty staffing technical positions
- Changing to outsourcing labor to other countries
- Reduced access to raw materials such as alloys, metals, and plastics
These disruptions make it difficult for doctors to prescribe antibiotics, for dentists to have access to filling materials for patients with cavities, and for offices to have enough staff on hand to treat patients.
Without a steady supply of medical supplies, healthcare professionals simply cannot do their job effectively. Therefore, any disruption of the medical supply chain can have a ripple effect throughout the entire industry, forcing many providers to close their doors for lack of necessary resources. Furthermore, patients could suffer in the absence of vital resources such as medications and assisted breathing apparatus that can only be supplied when the supply chain functions without fail. To maintain a well-functioning system, stakeholders must develop effective strategies to protect against potential threats that could interfere with the smooth operations of the supply chain in order to help ensure patient safety and access to healthcare resources.