Q&A: Improve your veterinary equine inventory management

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Q&A: Improve your veterinary equine inventory management

I'm having trouble maintaining an efficient and workable inventory system for my mobile equine practice. How can I simplify things?
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Aug 10, 2010
By dvm360.com staff
Inventory management provides its own unique challenges for ambulatory equine veterinarians, says Elise Lacher, CPA, of Strategic Veterinary Consulting in Seminole, Fla. You have the usual issues of stocking a central pharmacy—you don’t want to have too much inventory, nor too little. You manage reorder points, pricing, and all of the other usual issues that come with inventory management. But then you have a moving vehicle to consider, which adds a whole new wrinkle.

So where to begin? First, know what you have on your truck. Print a report from the inventory module that comes with your practice management software. Go through your truck and record everything that’s in it—even if something isn’t on the list— and correct any incorrect quantities. When you’re finished, you should have an accurate listing of your entire inventory. One additional point to consider: Inventory is typically thought of as primarily pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. Here, however, you should also inventory buckets, tubes, clamps, twitches, and all the other “stuff” you need to do your job.

Next, look over the list and make sure you have what you need to provide routine wellness care and treat common emergencies. You can refine the quantities as you get better at this, but for now, make an educated guess as to how much you need on your truck, Lacher advises.

Now go through the truck and label each location, what belongs there, and how many items you have. For example: “Bottom center drawer: two stainless steel buckets, one pump, one half-inch plastic tube, one quarter-inch plastic tube.”

Once you’ve counted up what should be in your truck, go back and total up the cost of the medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. This serves two purposes. First, it gives you the dollar value of the true inventory on your truck. Second, it tells you or your technician what needs to be restocked onto your truck each day before you leave the clinic or each night when you get back. Restocking from the central pharmacy will allow your staff to appropriately account for the inventory that’s being used on your truck. This goes a long way toward catching lost revenue and missed charges that can have such a negative impact on your profitability.

One final piece of advice: Check before you leave the office for any unusual things that you might need depending on your schedule for the day. Now I know sometimes the best of plans can go awry. But if you follow these ideas, you’ll usually have what you need to efficiently perform your own brand of high-quality medicine.

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