Why inventory control is so essential to good lab management

Lab Technician collects samples manually instead of using a LIMS
Managing lab inventory is far more efficient when processes are automated.

Inventory control is an essential component of proper lab management. Without inventory control, compliance, results, accuracy and patient safety are compromised.

Creating a discipline around inventory control is an effective way to teach staff members the importance of personal responsibility in lab management and the need for systems and processes that are necessary for efficient lab operations.

There are a number of other, ancillary benefits to better inventory control. Automating inventory processes further reinforces why inventory control is so essential to good lab management.

Advantages to automation
With the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there is a renewed emphasis on efficiency throughout medical operations. With cost controls at the forefront, automated inventory control systems have multiple benefits.

In addition to financial and quality improvements, automated systems reduce or eliminate inaccuracies in inventory control, more efficient ordering and product management and overall improvement in lab operations.

While many labs cling to manual inventory controls, forward-thinking lab managers are realizing that removing barriers to automation have considerable benefits. Among the barriers in need of dismantling are:

  • Other manual processes. Lab techs spend inordinate amounts of time searching for and collecting reagents, and other lab supplies. This often means lab techs are losing productivity while increasing the risk of human error.
  • Intuitive stocking. Many manual inventory systems rely on the hunches and best guesses for stocking products. Removing this component allows for more efficient and cost-effective inventory practices.
  • Bad products. With manual systems, there is a far greater risk that expired, recalled or obsolete products and supplies are used. This usage creates budgetary waste and may endanger patients via inaccurate results or dangerous procedures.
  • Faulty charge capturing. With manual processes, chargebacks are rife with error potentials, either from misplaced, mischarged, or omitted charges. Capturing charges manually exposes labs to the impact of human error.
  • Lack of analytics. With manual systems, creating accurate, real-time reports that can be used to analyze costs, usage and efficacy are daunting if not impossible. Creating these reports with manual inventory is time-consuming and tenuous in terms of accuracy.

Why automation works better
Biorepositories that automate their sample inventory control with LIMS are less likely for human error
Manual inventory control systems introduce higher degrees of human error into tracking and patient care.
Efficiency and accuracy are the most oft-cited advantages of an automated inventory management system. Consider the time spent in manual processes at the end of the day to reconcile usage against existing inventory. Manual controls require a significant amount of daily staff time to complete the reconciliation and initiate orders. With automation, reports can be generated in minutes and orders placed quickly based on pre-determined triggers.

There’s also the physical inventory days when labs often essentially shut down operations to count and recount. With perpetually scheduled tracking systems, components of inventory can be tracked on an ongoing basis, eliminating the need for annual shut-down days and overtime costs.

At Freezerworks, we help labs of all sizes automate all types of lab processes. To manage inventory, our products allow for customization, robust reporting and integrated automation across lab systems. Request a demo to learn more about how Freezerworks can help your lab improve its inventory and other lab operations.