Perpetual Inventory Systems – A Pharmacy Perspective

By definition perpetual inventory systems allow a user the ability to see a record of every sale, purchase, remaining inventory and that inventory’s cost in real time on a daily basis. This process has been greatly affected by the improvements in computer software and hardware and is rapidly ingraining itself in a variety of industries. The healthcare industry typically lagging behind the business sector is now seeing more and more efficient use of this technology. With a focus on the hospital pharmacy setting inventory management has made great strides in the last few years.

Typically a full-time purchaser would be designated to order medications on an as needed basis, which would require physical monitoring of inventory on a daily basis. This process usually involved creating an arbitrary par level and ordering medication replacements once an item fell below that level. While this concept was not only in efficient from a labor force perspective it was also an issue of patient safety. Infrequently used medications could tend to be overlooked in the daily monitoring process and in time of need may not have been available for dispensing. Issues also arose from a dispensing standpoint where some medications would be incorrectly stocked and subsequently re-stocked incorrectly in automated dispensing machines at nursing stations. However, with the implementation of Talyst inventory management systems these issues have all but been eliminated.

The concept behind the Talyst machine is the ability to store, monitor, dispense, and control all inventory from a singular location. Inventory can now be tracked in a perpetual way enabling instantaneous reports displaying inventory par levels, costs, and suggested purchases direct from the wholesalers. In addition manufacturer backorders are now known instantly along with their estimated release date enabling pharmacy management the ability to ration remaining inventory and better plan for use of alternatives. As added bonus of functionality the Talyst system incorporates bar code scanning capabilities to further enhance it’s control on inventory.

New items are thus scanned into their specific container and also scanned out during the dispensing process. This system has proved to be an invaluable tool in the management of pharmacy inventory by not only providing a better and more efficient use of the labor force but also has increased patient safety with it’s medication scanning functions and real-time inventory management ability.

From an accounting perspective the utilization of perpetual inventory management systems has also enabled management to better grasp the associated costs. Reports can be generated instantly depicting a snapshot of a period over a few months or a day depending on what information is needed. This information is imperative to the operational budget and how the pharmacy is performing within it.

In the end it seems that perpetual inventory management systems have substantially benefited pharmacies with a regard to improved control and immediately available information.

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