The US healthcare industry is continuously growing. If we look at the statistics, healthcare is expected to rake in a whopping $8.734 trillion by 2020, jumping from $7.077 trillion in 2015.
This growth brings with it many opportunities for different sectors of the healthcare industry. Especially so for pharmaceutical companies, which is looking to expand to cater to the growing demand.
However, such expansion in the pharmaceutical industry comes with a downside – the curse of complexity.
With growing demands, managing pharmaceutical workflows have become more complex. Researching and testing new drugs is now loaded with inefficiencies, from compliance issues to missing deadlines.
Noncompliance, in particular, is an expensive and all too real issue looming over pharmaceutical companies across the globe. So, what does it entail?
In the pharmaceutical industry, noncompliance spans over a vast array of cases. Certain companies maintain inconsistent chemical labels while others store chemicals past their expiration dates.
To no surprise, noncompliance by healthcare institutions comes with serious costs.
Simply taking a corrective and preventive action alone to rectify this can cost around $10,000. Implementing changes after you get a warning letter can cost between $20 million to $100 million.
Problems with the current system
Pharmaceutical companies are facing many problems with their current MO.
From our experience with customers in this sector, we’ve gathered that the main problem revolves around having an inefficient system of handling inventory.
With an industry like pharmaceuticals, inventory is key. But what is so inherently wrong with the current way of maintaining inventory?
Manual inventory management is counter-productive
Most companies in the pharmaceutical industry still use an entirely manual inventory management system, with no means for consolidating data in one place.
This also results in frequent human errors that lead up to inaccurate inventory counts and a disparity in demand and supply.
Moreover, manual counts take much more time and effort, making work difficult for employees.
Knowing the context, we can now discuss the major problems that trail manual inventory management.
1. Unawareness about expiration dates
In the healthcare industry, failure to keep track of expiration dates can be catastrophic.
Manual systems are inept at tracking product specifications and employees often check out an asset without knowing whether it has expired or not.
Expired chemicals going into drug production can result in potentially hazardous medicines.
It’s even worse if the drugs in question are still being researched, leading to skewed results and wasting several thousands of R&D dollars.
Considering how vast pharmaceutical inventories are, manually tracking expiration dates are bound to lead to errors. This can result in potential spillover effects that may endanger many human lives if paid no heed to.
A simple solution for this is to automate the process and weed out all chances for human error from the equation. How does this help?
- Getting regular alerts about an approaching expiration date enables you to timely retire the concerned asset.
- After disposal, reordering can also be streamlined by maintaining vendor records and making a timely purchase.
- Save time and meet project deadlines!
2. Difficulty creating standardized labels for different products
In many cases, not having standard and traceable labels for chemicals counts as a noncompliance issue. Traditional systems are one of the main factors responsible for this.
The varying sizes of labels coupled with the sheer amount of types and materials make creating and tracking labels a hard task if there isn’t software to help.
Other concerns include the desire for printing multiple labels in bulk to expedite tagging. This requires up-to-date and accurate product data that is hard to maintain with paper files or complicated excel sheets.
Finally, employees also complain about illegible or hard-to-scan labels springing from bad design.
3. Lack of control over what members can view
With conventional inventory systems, anyone in the institute can view all assets, even ones that have nothing to do with them.
They can easily check anything in or out, or worse yet, they can simply walk away with them without anyone knowing.
This, of course, creates many issues. It increases the loss of assets and the resultant cost of procuring new ones.
Apart from this, it also provides all members with cluttered and unnecessary information that is not relevant to them. Access to irrelevant information creates undue confusion only.
It is a general rule of thumb that in any organization, not all available assets are meant for the eyes of everyone. Some items must be used by only those who are authorized to view them and work with them.
For example, it doesn’t make sense for a member of the data analyst team to be able to view and potentially checkout a highly corrosive and sensitive chemical used for testing in the pharmaceutical industry.
Such cases call for a need to restrict what certain members can and cannot view and checkout.
4. Errors in manually tracking check-ins and checkouts
One concern common to all the challenges mentioned above is the inability to keep tabs on the whereabouts of assets.
With an entirely manual system in place, pharmaceutical companies have to physically sign off on check-ins and checkouts. This takes up valuable worker time.
Additionally, when a member manually checks out an asset, there is no way to know whether the asset is at the right location or is being used for its designated function.
Another problem with this is that not everyone follows a standardized procedure to check out chemicals. This means there could be assets checked out that the administrator isn’t even aware of since they weren’t signed off.
Without a checkout trail, it is simply not possible to hold the right employees accountable for mishaps at work.
Solving inventory management perils with EZOfficeInventory
Now that we understand the problems associated with manual inventory management, let’s see how automation can help alleviate them.
An inventory management software helps to streamline the complete asset lifecycle and automate tracking. This enables organizations to know exactly where and in what condition their assets are.
Leading inventory management system – EZOfficeInventory – offers all of the above and more. It fits in with your company workflows instead of the other way around and provides end to end inventory tracking.
Here are some useful features in EZOfficeInventory that solve common inventory management challenges for the pharmaceutical industry:
1. Alerts Module
The Alerts Module enables you to solve the problem of tracking expiration dates for all your chemicals.
You can create a custom field for the “Expiration Date” of your chemicals in EZOfficeInventory. Specify to send out the alert on the said date. You can even choose how many days before this date should the alerts be sent out.
This way, you will be notified whenever the expiration date of a chemical is due. With this information, simply log into your account and retire those assets accordingly.
Retired assets are removed from the system records so no one can check them out anymore.
However, EZOfficeInventory still maintains all usage history for retired assets. All that is kept safe within the system, and easily accessible for you at your convenience.
Apart from expiration date alerts, you can also set alerts for low stock or other specific events catering to your particular needs.
All these alerts are email-based and customizable. You can choose the email content for different alert types. In addition, you can also decide who the alerts are sent out to.
This helps if you don’t want to end up spamming irrelevant personnel with your alerts.
2. Label and Printout Templates
While labels are an integral component of all kinds of inventories, they’re especially important for pharmaceuticals.
These labels communicate crucial product information and help differentiate between assets. For this reason, they need to be crisp, clear and concise.
That is exactly what the Printout Templates feature enables you to do. It enables you to easily design asset labels of any size, format or style.
To make the process easy, you can also print multiple labels in bulk on the same page so you don’t have to carry out the tedious process time and time again.
Designing the labels is also easy with EZOfficeInventory. There are default templates available that you can choose if you don’t wish to design your own from scratch. Or you can design a custom label template that fits your needs well.
Use the design canvas to drag and drop information around to where you would want it. You can also add color tags in your labels for simpler differentiation between various asset categories.
To make the asset tracking process easier, you can even add a barcode to your label template, but that is something we will discuss in detail later on.
3. User Listings
Assign different roles and restrict the visibility of certain members by creating User Listings in your EZOfficeInventory account.
This enables you to remove clutter and give your members a more simplistic view of the system. Managing access control of users to asset data also allows for improved asset utilization within the organization.
Moreover, gain greater control by ensuring that restricted members never check out assets that aren’t authorized for them. This consequently results in a decrease in misuse and loss of assets as well.
You can easily create User Listings on the basis of different departments or lab locations.
This enables you to ensure that, for instance, the technical lab team only views assets relevant to them and not the assets pertaining to the quality assurance team.
4. RFID Tracking
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is known to increase inventory accuracy from 70% to 98%. This is why it’s an important feature that EZOfficeInventory offers.
RFID tracking can do wonders for companies in the pharmaceutical industry that have trouble keeping track of their diverse inventory.
RFID tracking solves the entire problem of manually having to track check-ins and checkouts. Software solutions that support RFID tracking enable you to check out an asset simply by scanning the RFID tag on it.
This also helps you to know whether a checked out asset is at its assigned location and if it is being used for its specific function.
Similarly, to verify if members have checked in the correct asset, you can scan its tag. This helps save time as the entire process of checking assets in and out becomes faster.
Moreover, many pharmaceutical labs don’t allow certain electronic devices such as mobile phones within the lab. In these settings, an RFID handheld scanner is an ideal solution for tracking assets.
Time to face these challenges head-on
Dealing with all these challenges in the pharmaceutical industry on your own can be a grueling task. Especially so when you track assets manually.
However, shifting to an online platform for inventory management and asset tracking such as EZOfficeInventory can do wonders for you.
You will not only be able to pull down costs and improve your tracking accuracy, but also enjoy greater control and tighter compliance.
With the various features EZOfficeInventory offers, you can print standard labels for your chemicals, track their movements easily and control who gets to check them out.
Moreover, the Alerts Module in EZOfficeInventory allows for timely alerts on expired assets – a much-needed feature in the pharmaceutical industry to save you from various unintended disasters.
Have any questions?
EZOfficeInventory is the leading laboratory equipment tracking software. It enables you to track, maintain and report on equipment from anywhere, at any time. We offer a free 15-day trial – no credit card required!