Is running out of supplies plaguing your efficiency? Is an overabundance of supplies harming your bottom line? Maybe it’s time to evaluate a just-in-time (JIT) inventory control system. Applicable to manufacturing as well as management, the JIT approach helps you control costs by purchasing supplies only as needed to meet actual patient demand.
Start by determining what you need on an average clinic day in each exam room. Don’t just stock the shelves; designate an area for each supply. Label shelves, cupboards and drawers to indicate the name of the supplies, the number you need on the shelf at the beginning of each day, as well as a photo or drawing of it. Improve efficiency by standardizing the placement of supplies and instruments so they are always in the same location in each exam room.
Develop a system to make sure supplies are restocked at the end of both morning and afternoon sessions (ie, twice a day), or at the end of the day. Designate the main storage of supplies in a secure, well-organized cabinet, and designate an employee to manage and monitor that cabinet.
Stock a roving cart with the supplies or equipment not routinely needed (or for which there isn’t adequate space in the exam room). Alternately, stock plastic bins with supplies as designated for each service you provide. Just as you do with the supplies kept in exam rooms, label each bin or cart with its contents, including pictures of each item.
For supplies that could expire, such as items kept in your crash cart, be sure to include the expiration dates for each on a log or spreadsheet that with the cart – use Velcro, tape, string, or even plastic zip ties to make sure supply lists do not get separated from their carts.
Whether it’s a cart, a bin, a shelf, a drawer or another form of storage, posting readily accessible information about the supplies within, as well as any expiration dates, will make monitoring and restocking a breeze…and you’ll never be caught by surprise.
Check out this link for the JIT System at Sun Prairie Clinic. (http://www.fammed.wisc.edu/our-department/newsletter/summer-2009/inventory-management)