Barcoding in healthcare promises to be a game changer for inventory control. Barcodes allow for increased accuracy in item tracking and stock maintenance, and have already been used with great success in retail. But how can medical providers best use barcodes for their needs?
Barcoding in Healthcare
The most obvious application for medical barcoding is the ability to track items. Users can store item barcode information in an inventory management system and then scan out units as they are taken out for use. This lets the software track product usage and tell you when stock is low. The best systems even help you reorder and integrate with EDI vendors to send the order. Timely resupply avoids costly rush ordering, and helps prevent staff from ordering too much out of fear of another shortage. The latter is especially important since overstock often expires on the shelf and has to be discarded. Automated barcode tracking helps providers optimize their inventory spending, and holds the potential for great cost savings and efficiencies.
Another advantage for barcoding in healthcare is the ability to create your own custom barcodes, which you can print as labels and then attach to items. This allows for providers to use identification schemes that are already utilized by other systems in the organization, such as patient management, billing and accounting. This kind of integration lets you leverage those processes and get the most out of your investment. Many users appreciate the level of control this option gives in managing their inventory.
Finally, if your office flow is too busy for individual item scanning, then another option is to store products in certain shelf slots, then affix the product barcode label to the front of the shelf. Items are taken as needed, and periodically someone examines the shelf to count how many units should be reordered. They determine the count, then scan the barcode the appropriate number of times to place the items on the order in the computer system. This method has worked well for retail, and is a good compromise for offices that want some automation but may not have the time to use all its features.
These features work best in conjunction with a powerful inventory management software tool such as ArbiMed. With the right system in place, you will quickly see how barcoding in healthcare can make an immediate impact on your practice.