Good inventory management encompasses all the activities associated with ordering, storing, handling and issuing of blood and blood products to optimise efficiency.
Managing blood and blood product inventory is made up of two key factors:
- Product availability. Planning of inventory levels held, timing of deliveries and order volume; and
- Product integrity. Physical and process control of product in your facility, to ensure efficient and effective handling to maintain availability and minimise wastage.
Inventory management procedures, records and systems may vary significantly from one health provider to the next depending on the size and nature of the services provided. There is no single set of activities that will suit all health providers so you should examine which activities might work to improve inventory management for you. An effective inventory manager understands how to make use of the data available in order to determine how each part of the supply chain affects their facility and how it could be improved on.
WHY IS INVENTORY MANAGEMENT IMPORTANT?
Good inventory management is vital for health providers holding blood and blood products to ensure appropriate utilisation of a precious resource. Not holding enough inventory can potentially put patients at risk or disrupt routine services. However, having too much inventory can deplete products held by the supplier to insufficient levels, increase the age of product at transfusion and increase wastage through increased expiry. By managing inventory efficiently, health providers will be aware of their usage patterns and can order blood and blood products accordingly.
- The National Stewardship Statement of Expectations1 states that health providers play an important part in minimising wastage. The statement also requires that health providers have an ordering and receipting verification process (such as BloodNet) in order to provide adequate financial accountability as required by governments. These processes are also required by healthcare organisations under NSQHS Standard 7 – Blood and Blood Products.2
SUPPLY CHAIN AND LOGISTICS
The term ‘supply chain and logistics’ describes the activities for supply and management of blood and blood products. Health providers can be involved in influencing many parts of the supply chain. This can be achieved through planning, implementing and controlling activities concerning:
- orders, deliveries and storage of products;
- stock movement and handling; and
- issue of blood and blood products to end users, including clinicians and patients.
Inventory management improvement activities can involve addressing the size, location, and number of deliveries, whether health providers supply to other health providers (hub and spoke type arrangements), as well as on-site storage arrangements and conditions for different products. It also involves addressing relationship issues among suppliers, distributors and end users (e.g. clinicians). This requires creating strong channels of communication with suppliers, distributors and end users so that important information gets through.