If you work in a doctor’s office, hospital, or another medical setting, you already know how challenging it can be to keep your medical supplies and equipment organized. Whether you’re organizing a medical supply room or organizing a hospital supply room, there are best practices that can help you keep your medical supplies optimally and adequately stocked.
In this article, we’ll reveal how to organize a medical supply closet, with tips and tricks that work for practices of every shape and size. While not every suggestion or step will apply to you, we’re confident at least a few of these pointers can help you take control of your medical storage today.
1. Take stock of everything you have, what you need, and where
Chances are, your practice or hospital maintains quite a bit of inventory. Before you can truly get organized, you’ll need to get to the bottom of what you have and where the best place to store it might be. Start with a full-blown audit. You may need to perform this while your office is closed or count inventory little by little to avoid disrupting your practice. However you decide to count your inventory physically, don’t skip this step.
Once you have clarity about what you have on hand, consider whether these items are stored in the most convenient place. It’s possible that your current storage situation is suboptimal. From exam rooms to storage closets to off-site facilities, you want to determine exactly what your team needs in every storage area available.
How do you know exactly what you need and where? You’ll want to review past inventory records to determine consumption. If you don’t have access to that data, make estimated guesses, talk to others on your team, and do your best. Start keeping better track of consumption now so that when you revisit this process, you’ll have a clearer idea of what your medical practice or hospital truly requires.
Remember that your inventory needs will be determined by various factors unique to your practice—and those needs may fluctuate month by month or season by season.
2. Make your storage areas truly functional
While auditing, counting, and reconsidering your inventory, you may notice that your physical storage solutions are inadequate. You may want to invest in new shelving, rolling carts, bins, and other organizational equipment to make inventory organization and management more effortless.
After all, in the next step, you’ll create a dedicated storage space for each item in your inventory. And that won’t be easy if your storage space isn’t set up for success.
3. Create space for each item
Now that your medical supply closets and exam rooms are organized and optimized, you’ll want to begin carefully stocking your shelves according to the strategy you set forward in step one.
Remember, nothing is set in stone—so it’s okay to get things not quite right at first. The purpose of this process, at least in the beginning, is to estimate consumption and then make adjustments until you can restock at regularly-scheduled intervals, like at the end of the day or week.
You may want to use a label maker or other tool to clarify what goes where and how much of it you need. When you decide on a location for an item, update your inventory management software or inventory spreadsheet accordingly. Creating records of how you organize will also streamline future audits and physical inventory counts.
4. Keep track of critical dates, including expiration
Another thing to keep in mind when organizing your medical supply room? Key dates for your medical supplies. You should note expiration dates directly on your inventory list or in your inventory management software. If you use an inventory app like Sortly, you’ll be able to set customized alerts, so you’re reminded when an item is set to expire. That way, you can always ensure your medical stock is up to date.
You should also consider the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method for stocking your medical supplies. The FIFO method requires placing the soonest-to-expire inventory at the forefront of the shelf, with duplicate items set to expire later placed behind them. That way, your team is always grabbing the expiring inventory first, reducing physical and financial waste.
5. Develop a comprehensive inventory list
You’ve already started building an inventory list using a sheet of paper, spreadsheet, or inventory app. But if you haven’t done so already, you’ll want to get as detailed as possible. If you’re using an app like Sortly, you can take pictures, attach key documents, sync barcodes and QR codes, and even set inventory minimums so you never run out of essential supplies or materials.
The most important aspect of maintaining a medical inventory list is taking precautions with medical supplies and equipment that require special handling. With the right inventory app, you can easily keep track of important instructions, like storage specifications, hazardous materials warnings, and more.
6. Keep valuable or controlled items under lock and key
While many of your medical supplies will simply be stashed away in a storage closet or exam room cabinet, there are other items you’ll need to secure. This goes for expensive equipment, controlled substances, and private files. You can physically secure these with a lock and key, but you also may want to secure them virtually.
Some inventory software, including Sortly, allows you to hide or restrict access to specific items. This isn’t always optional. Chances are your medical group or even federal law mandates you take specific steps to protect or secure some inventory and some information. Consult an expert about what you need to do to properly secure certain items within your medical practice.
7. Review inventory frequently and continue to adapt storage
Remember that medical and hospital supply room organization is an ongoing process. You’ll need to continue to audit your inventory, adjust your strategy, and look for vulnerabilities in your inventory management system. Keep an eye out for red flags such as theft, shrinkage, obsolescence, and overordering.
And if you’re using an inventory app to manage your medical supplies, review those records frequently to keep your inventory minimums accurate and more effectively forecast demand. You’ll find that if you practice perpetual inventory, it’ll be much easier to keep a close eye on your inventory daily.
Experience the simplest inventory management software.
Sortly is a top-rated inventory management software system that helps medical practices and hospitals keep track of their supplies and equipment. Perfect for big and small practices, Sortly’s automation features, visual inventory system, and helpful alerts and reminders can help your team keep every exam room, storage closet, and utility cart perfectly stocked. And that way, your team can focus on patients—not hunting down paper gowns.
Ready to give Sortly a try? Start a free, two-week trial now.