Medical Inventory: You Can Do Better

How to Ramp up Efficiency and Drive Down Costs

There are so many things in private practice that are not in our control, from interest rates to supply chain shortages. So it only makes sense to control things we can—and inventory management is near the top of that list.

Properly managing medical inventory can lower costs, eliminating pricey overnight shipping, reducing loss to expiration, and better positioning your practice to capture discounts. It is also good medicine. You have exactly what you need for each procedure and you know that all materials are well within their expiration dates.

So what can you do to improve inventory management? Here are some ideas:

Hire an Inventory Specialist

Many people in your office will interact with inventory, including doctors, nurses and technicians. But only one person should be in charge of tracking, purchasing and stocking. This is a logistics job that requires consistency, precision and attention to detail and it should be handed to an inventory specialist. Hire someone who is fanatical about keeping prices low, shelves stocked and systems running smoothly.  

Invest in a System

Whether you run a large practice or a small one, you need an orderly inventory system. There must be a way to track supplies, place orders and restock the shelves on a regular basis, whether that’s a simple manual process or a sophisticated software-based system.

A small practice might use a manual system in which the person in charge of inventory takes stock regularly and tracks supply counts in a spreadsheet, along with expiration dates and other relevant information. A more advanced and centralized version of this would be to use an inventory tracking tool like the one offered by Nitra.

A larger, more sophisticated practice might put a digital inventory system in place to keep track of supply levels, costs, expiration dates and other data. Whichever you choose, what matters is that you have a system and that your staff understands and respects it.

Insist on Cost-Saving Measures

Inventory is not just about having supplies on hand. It is also a major cost for most practices, often third behind the payroll and rent. Your inventory specialist should be looking for opportunities to save money without sacrificing quality.

A practice with multiple offices can centralize purchasing and increase buying power. Combining the orders from three offices, for example, may result in larger purchases that command price discounts. Your inventory specialist should also be reviewing vendors regularly (at least once a year) to ensure that you are getting the best prices and service.

The last thing is perhaps the easiest: route your expenses through a business card and use the cashback feature to capture instant savings. For example, 2% cashback on $500,000 in annual purchasing is $10,000 a year—all on purchases you already make.