By Mareo McCracken
The Future of Consignment Inventory: Visibility & Control
You know if you knew where it was you would be able to forecast, plan, and source so much better… you would reduce field inventory like crazy.
The medical device supply chain is filled with obstacles for manufacturers, distributors, and hospitals. One of the most difficult areas is in field inventory management. When you combine the various inventory types like rep consigned inventory, hospital consignment, and even loaners or trunk stock, you create a very complicated system.
Consigned Inventory Management – A Problem
Consignment inventory management is hard. You know where stuff should be, but often, you don’t actually know where it is. The challenges are substantial, and solutions are varied and often complex.
Yet, with the right processes and modern tools: visibility can be gained.
Healthcare supply chains, including medical device manufacturers and hospitals, must work together to increase visibility for everyone.
Too Many Tools and Too Many Processes
Every company and hospital has its own process, and each process is different. Commonly used tools include various barcode standards, RFID, and manual serialization. The demand for software to bridge the gap in tools and processes is needed now more than ever.
Barcodes — and, when used correctly, RFID tags — can dramatically improve the healthcare supply chain visibility for medical device sales, ops, surgical, and marketing teams. At Movemedical, we believe that visibility leads to accountability, accountability leads to efficiency, and efficiency leads to reducing waste and risk. Visibility is the first step
In the case of consignment visibility and UDI compliance, companies are already turning to barcodes, RFID, and “atomic stock” to address the device traceability issues. Yet, separate processes and tools for different types of inventory just create more work. When you have some inventory that is RFID and some that are barcoded it is hard to keep everything in order. Traditionally, you must have different processes to manage the various tools.
The Right Software Can Unite All of The Tools
Having software that can manage all of your inventory, no matter the traceability process is key to simplifying operations, improving data accuracy, and reducing time and cost.
By using the tools (e.g., barcodes, RFID) in conjunction with a robust field sales and operations asset management software, manufacturers, distributors, and hospitals can decrease waste while improving asset utilization.
And more than just visibility and traceability, when set-up correctly, the software can perform all usage capture, trigger re-orders and manage expiring inventor alerts.
These features, along with the ability to collect large amounts of passive data, allow better analytics for all stakeholders.
Increasing Visibility and Reducing Costs Together
Every organization needs to reduce costs and inefficiencies. Some tools are good at providing historical visibility at best, yet do nothing to actually get the real work done. The key to changing the industry is to use a tool that allows all the work to occur in one system. A single, easy-to-use software application, where all the work that needs to get done is completed in one system, is the beginning of driving true change and compliance. If you can get manufacturers and hospitals onto one user-agnostic platform, you can begin to create standards that drive efficiency and visibility for everyone.
Increasing compliance will increase visibility. Once you know where the inventory is, you can begin to actually manage it. That visibility will drive material benefits for your business.
The Trick: User Adoption
The only way to get accurate location and usage information for true consignment management is to ensure the users (sales reps/field ops teams) are compliant with the correct tools and processes. Most field inventory management, consignment, trunk stock, and RFID software was not built with the end user in mind. This is why adoption is hard. Multiple nonspecific systems have been patched together in attempts to create solutions. When a tool is built for a specific purpose, the sales reps and ops teams will use it. A solution is needed that is purpose-built to handle the medical device supply chain, a solution that is robust enough to handle all processes and tools yet flexible enough to work with all stakeholders.
By using a system with an integrated mobile app for Sales Reps, combined with a little training, Sales Reps are much more likely to follow the right processes needed to create visibility for all inventory in the field. There is 1 main thing that needs to happen:
Have a system that allows reps to easily do everything they need to do. (schedule, order product, request loaners, capture usage, send and receive inventory, communicate)
The end result is that teams do more in less time, because of increased visibility and less admin busy work. By driving efficiencies and performing the same compliant activities with less cost, all the field inventory becomes visible and products get shipped earlier. Last-minute orders magically start to decrease. Cycle counts are easier.
When field inventory is managed properly asset allocation and demand planning actually is much more accurate. Everyone wins.
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A good field inventory solution is worth its weight in gold, a fully integrated medical device specific operations and sales force effectiveness platform is priceless.
A complete tool should be able to or have:
- Inventory Control & Visibility (All Locations, All Buckets)
- Direct Orders
- CRM / Case & Opportunity Management
- Directed Picking & Put-away (Bin Mapped WMS)
- Surgery Scheduling (+ Calendar, Shared)
- Active Order Visibility
- Shipping Coordination (FedEx, UPS Integration)
- Customer/Account Management
- Opportunity/Lead Management
- Surgeon Preferences / Preference Cards
- Auto Product Replenishment
- Commission Calculations
- Expiration Notifications
- Send & Receive Tools (Rep to Rep etc.)
- Contract & List Pricing (Real-time)
- Audit/Cycle Counts
- Reporting & Billing
- Image & File Sharing
- Secure HIPAA Compliant Communication
- Mobile Usage Capture
- UDI Compliance
- Barcode Scanning
- RFID Integration & RFID Reconciling (HF/UHF)
- ERP/CRM/EMR Integrations
- Demand Planning Tools
- Consignment/Loaner Management (Consigned Inventory)
- Pluggable Workflows (Programmatic Integrations, Integrated Prediction Models)
- Sourcing Matrix Tool
- HIPAA Compliant Communication Platform (Messages, Calendar, Usage, Notes, Files)
- Sourcing Optimization
- Future Stock (Virtual Inventory Assigned to Future Events)
- Atomic Inventory (UDI Ready, Piece Level Tracking, Serialized or Not)
- Hybrid Kitting (Skinny Kits, Kit Management, Kit Versioning, Tracking)
- Cross Boundary Workflows
- Lost & Found (Automatic Cycle Counting )
- Merger/Acquisition Integration
- Par Management
- Multi-Catalog Management
- Loan Optimization (1 Loan Per Day)
- Separate or Combined Sales & Operations Alignment
- Cost-to-Serve Metrics
- Turn Ratio Dashboards
- Sales Metrics / Data (Reps, Leaders, Corporate)
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