Cath Lab Inventory Management: Improving the Bottom Line

Florida Hospital’s goal in deploying an RFID-based inventory management solution was to optimize inventory by automated tracking, monitoring and more intelligently ordering high-cost implants and physician preference items, says Margarita Rivera, supply chain and contracting manager. “Data based on new practices and the changing of preferred brands used by our physicians helps us predict what supplies will be needed. We review trends and we modify our purchases to meet the demand, reduce overstock and decrease spending. We rely on the system to then autogenerate the order. It knows what we have used, amounts needed and par levels. It also warns us what is coming close to expiration so we can act upon the product before it becomes waste, loss to hospital or safety issue with patients. The system can review trends to predict what will be needed in the future for bulk planning and forecasting of expenses. It really saves our staff a lot of time.” 

At the heart of the system are Cardinal Health Smart Cabinets that read contents automatically, while RFID-enabled point of care stations capture usage. Cloud-based software includes reports on inventory, utilization trends and cost per case data. Clinicians in the procedure room wave the RFID tag or scan the barcode on each item used to make sure all inventory utilized is scanned and pushed to the patient record. Thus, the device is documented in the patient’s clinical record, allowing for accurate billing and subsequent reimbursement.

The facility also makes use of virtual inventory tracking, using a Smart Wand. The Smart Wand technology expands the footprint of inventory tracked by RFID by allowing products to be stored in existing cabinetry while retaining all the benefits of RFID tracking.

The financial results started the first day Florida Hospital turned the solution on about five years ago, when they realized they had thousands of dollars in expired devices in inventory. “We did an about face from there on,” Rivera says. Now soon-to-expire inventory is either used or returned, while recalled devices are tracked and removed from inventory.

They have recently tightened their budgets, streamlined workflow and reduced inventory significantly—adding up to $1.7 million in annual savings that she attributes to careful tracking and prediction of device trends and history. “There is no need to carry them all based on what physicians are using,” she says. “We are always forecasting with our data.”

Rivera sees careful inventory management tracking as a must today. It is not an option, but a necessity in the era of healthcare reform. “It is essential to managing interventional labs,” she says. “With our size and volume, managing our inventory levels helps save lots of money and time—and, in terms of managing products, negotiating contracts better, better use of staff time and planning for our future. Going back in time would be virtually impossible. We don’t have the money or time to waste.”