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Inventory system should include these features
Electronic purchase orders save time
When shopping for an inventory system, look for one that addresses the specific needs of your facility, suggests Terri Gatton, RN, CNOR, administrator of the Zanesville (OH) Surgery Center. Otherwise, you’ll invest too much time and money in a new system to try something that may not be designed for surgery, she adds.
"There are many practice management systems that have an inventory system," says Scott Palmer, group vice president for SurgiSource, a product that includes inventory management, produced by Birmingham, AL-based Source Medical Solutions. Palmer and Gatton suggest that you look for the following features to make sure you have a system that will save you time and money:
Your item master should support multiple vendors, manufacturers, and locations, says Palmer. The system also should be able to generate purchase orders as needed and even send them electronically if your vendor supports that capability, Palmer says.
Electronic purchase order transmission is a must, says Gatton. "This feature saves a lot of time and manpower," she explains.
Preference cards need to be integrated into the system because they are the basis for the ordering advice, says Palmer. Preference cards cut down on staff time because only the exceptions must be entered, he adds.
Although some department managers choose to create preference cards for the procedures performed most often, Gatton suggests cards for each physician and each procedure. "This keeps our ordering process accurate and nurses don’t have to list as many exceptions," she adds.
You should be able to get reports that show current costs in relation to historical costs, as well as to industry standards, suggests Palmer. This helps you make informed decisions and to identify trends that need to be investigated, he adds.
You should plan on a quarterly manual count to verify your computerized inventory, says Gatton. Updating your computerized inventory to reflect actual, manual counts should be a simple process, she says.
Using par levels set by the department manager, a computerized inventory system should alert the materials manager that a certain item has dropped below a predetermined level, Palmer says.