Stock and Item Management Considerations in Healthcare

In the healthcare setting the requirements around item tracking and management are significantly different to those of a typical warehouse, retail, or manufacturing environment.

In a typical warehouse items will go through a fairly linear process through receiving, put-away, picking, packing, and dispatch using standard, established workflows. In a hospital, pharmacy, or other healthcare service provider there are numerous different considerations that need to be taken into account when setting up item tracking and management as several systems and process can interconnect in complex ways.

Stock and equipment management

Asset check-out/check-in – Hospitals and labs use various expensive and specialized pieces of equipment. A barcode based check-in and check-out system for such equipment enables better tracking of equipment and prevents losses.

Pharmacy – Pharmacies need to keep very accurate stock counts to eliminate losses and ensure accurate prescription fulfilment.

Stock room materials management – Hospitals and other healthcare facilities utilize a high number of consumables. It is therefore important to have good stock room and materials management, ensuring that the necessary items are always available, and that their usage is accurately tracked and managed.

Identification management

Patient ID at point of care – ensuring patients are correctly identified (for example via barcoded wrist tags), ensures that they receive the correct care, and that an up-to-date and accurate care history can be maintained.

Lab work and samples – samples taken from patients for further testing or diagnosis need to be labeled quickly and accurately to ensure that patients get accurate and timely results.

Integrity management

Cold Chain and Expiry dates – Not only to samples need to be correctly labeled against the patient ID, but they also need end to end traceability to ensure that they are handled, stored, and disposed of correctly. Patient samples, lab work, and pharmacy items must not only be uniquely identifiable, but also need additional tracking information such as cold chain management and expiry dates.

Regulatory considerations – healthcare is a highly regulated environment to ensure public safety and the highest possible levels of care. Part of these regulations will inform the processes around item and stock management that are required in a healthcare facility. It is therefore important to have a system that is robust enough to support these requirements, but also flexible enough to meet any changes in requirements.

A barcode based management system such as GraniteWMS can help to ensure that all these needs are met and all systems operate smoothly. It can also provide a live view of the items being tracked and produce reports on all transactions giving a clear overview of operations.

It is also important to consider the hardware being used in a healthcare setting. See this blog post from Cradle to learn more about barcoding hardware solutions for healthcare.