So you just installed a new inventory management system. All your worries are over because the computer magically does all the work, right? Far from true, counsels Mitch Archer, senior systems analyst for PioneerRx. That’s only the start. Archer offers advice on getting the most out of any perpetual inventory system.
1. Perpetual inventory is not just a software, it’s a process and a mindset.
The more people involved at the pharmacy, the better because it creates buy-in, and promotes a culture of shared responsibility and vigilance – especially for controlled medications.
2. Perpetual inventory is “garbage in, garbage out.”
The computer will make a good recommendation for re-ordering if your inventory is 100% accurate. It will make a bad recommendation if you don’t know what is on your shelves.
3. Every dropped or lost pill must be adjusted in the inventory software immediately, not ignored.
4. Mr. Archer strongly suggests using an electronic counting device, regardless of brand.
“I’m not saying every pharmacy using a tray and spatula is harum-scarum. But I always tell PioneerRx users that if they can afford it, definitely invest in some sort of counting technology because it saves time and money. Two techs tray-counting isn’t as efficient as one tech counting with a machine.”
5. When shopping for a counting device, Archer recommends considering these factors:
- Which model fits my physical space on the countertop?
- Which best fits my budget?
- Which interfaces to the computer system?
6. If an employee fears new technology or resists changes in workflow:
Management should have a frank conversation to clarify the pharmacy’s policies and goals. If an employee doesn’t want to use new technology, that employee is much more likely to sabotage the investment, consciously or unconsciously.
7. Because cycle counts may take 5-15 minutes per day, it could be difficult to work it in at first.
Using a counting device helps with the early transition because it lessens the tedium and time drain – especially with large stock bottles.
8. What are common causes of incorrect inventory?
According to Archer:
- Stock bottles purchased from a 3rd party that is not your primary wholesaler and not in your ordering system. If an employee doesn’t enter the new quantity in (whether laziness or forgetfulness), that throws off the count.
- OTCs used to fill a prescription. “Your drug inventory goes negative if someone walks to the front shelf, grabs an OTC, and fills a script without afterward transferring the quantity electronically,” Archers says.