Ambulatory surgery centers, like other businesses, must be in control of how much inventory they have and where that inventory is going. Inventory variances and inaccurate quantities on hand will likely put your patients at risk, jeopardize your level of clinical care, and frustrate caregivers within your organization. Loss of inventory also equates to loss of revenue.
Inventory variance is the difference between what your inventory record shows and how much inventory you actually have on hand. Variance reports are created in order to record and fix inventory problems. Any time there is a variance in the numbers of actual inventory on hand versus theoretical inventory i.e. the inventory you should be using according to utilization and receipt records, which needs to be the source of truth for every supply chain department.
Benefits of Reviewing Reports on a Regular Basis
Inventory reports should be generated and reviewed on a regular basis. Regular variance in inventory is a serious issue because you are creating bottlenecks & losing inventory. Loss of inventory can come from many sources. Supplies could be pilfered (either on an internal or external level), verbal supply requests delivered but not electronically decremented, misplaced or simply miscalculated. Generally, a small number of inventory variance is to be expected. But, if there is a consistent variance in inventory, steps must be taken to prevent this.
In any event, the loss of inventory shown through inventory variance is something that needs to be handled in order to cut down on losses and become more efficient. The accurate maintenance and management of medical supplies is the basis for a strong supply chain, and a strong supply chain is vital to the proper management of a surgery center. Without a strong supply chain, patients can suffer because there may sometimes be too much of a product stocked in an area, which increases your risk of expired medical supplies and you holding cost, or not enough of a product in stock for other areas, which could result in that product not being available when needed for other patients. Proper utilization reporting and rounding regularly in clinical areas will ensure that the hospital has sustainable inventory in stock and ready for use.
Reducing variance in your inventory values can be accomplished through regular inventory checks, proper training and screening of staff and/or using efficient inventory management systems to ensure accuracy and run reports on past years’ variances. These are just a few ways to ensure that inventory variances are minimized in your hospital.
Training is a Top Priority
Ensure that your staff is well trained in inventory audits. This may mean having a cross-functional team of staff members conducting the audits. Make sure that there are multiple people involved to reduce human error and create a system of checks and balances within the auditing system. This keeps everyone accountable and ensures that no single person is solely responsible for managing and auditing inventory.
Maintaining accurate inventory records, conducting regular inventory audits and using a digital management system are key ways to ensure proper record-keeping. If a certain department keeps coming up with high inventory variances, it is time to re-train the staff to get to the root of the problem. While it may seem like a small problem, the costs involved in inventory variance can add up quickly. This is why it is vital to any healthcare organization that all inventories are current and accounted for.