Our practice, like many, has found inventory management to be a challenge—we’ve heard plenty of stories abpout open antibiotics, outdated products, and practices running out of supplies. We grew tired of our six-month inventory counts being incorrect, so we took a huge leap and transformed an underused area of our building into a central pharmacy. We added a few cabinets and a pass-through window, and we soon had the answer to our problems. This centralized inventory area has reduced waste, errors, theft, product expiration, and overstocking.
We now keep all of our medications and medical and office supplies in our pharmacy. An inventory manager oversees the inventory for all five of our hospitals, making sure that each practice has the right products at the right time. Since our satellite locations are smaller than our main facility, we’ve found that we can keep some higher-ticket items at the main location and requisition them out to other clinics as needed. By taking this approach, we can ensure that we won’t have an entire case of heartworm preventative sitting at a satellite, just a sleeve or two.
Here’s how it works: A technician will enter a prescription into the computer and print a label in the pharmacy. Our full-time pharmacy worker fills the script while the client is checking out. The client then picks up the medications at the window. This process has greatly decreased client wait times and has improved our time studies. Unforeseen benefits have included fewer mistakes (what practice hasn’t fielded a call from a client who says they received 500mg Keflex instead of 250mg?), higher internal controls (the pharmacy is locked and under 24-hour surveillance), a better system for controlled substances (we have several drawers that are counted, signed out, counted, and signed back in), and less waste for nonmedical products (no more ordering a case of brochures only to find half a case shoved in a corner in the back room).
Our facility had the space to make this transformation, but you don’t need a large area to succeed. Many buildings have space that could be better utilized in this way. By moving all products to a single area, you can probably reduce the amount of “stuff” you keep on hand, and, therefore, you won’t need as much space as you predict.
Angie Hartin is the assistant practice manager at Hawthorne Animal Hospital in Glen Carbon, Ill.