Best Practices For Healthcare Inventory Management

Healthcare inventory management

Maintaining healthy inventory levels is an important part of every healthcare provider’s operations. Whether you are running a hospital, producing and distributing medicine, or offering other lifesaving services to patients, you need to have the right materials in stock to satisfy demand and avoid costly delays. An advanced inventory management solution like Fishbowl allows you to track inventory, avoid shortages, protect sensitive data, handle leases, consignments, etc., and integrate with QuickBooks. We will go through each of these points in this article to demonstrate how Fishbowl can improve your healthcare inventory management.


There are many reasons healthcare providers need to track their inventory. What if a particular shipment is subject to recall because it was contaminated before it was even sent to you? It is not your fault that that has happened, but you will still likely be required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to find every one of the affected items and make sure they are returned to the appropriate vendor and/or disposed of properly instead of getting mixed in with your untainted supply. Do you have protocols in place for this kind of situation? It could be costly in terms of regulatory fines and reputation damage if you don’t.

The way healthcare providers combat this problem is by using lot number and serial number tracking. A lot number is assigned to a specific shipment of goods so that each one is connected to that shipment and can be quickly found no matter how much they are scattered. Serial numbers help you differentiate between copies of the same item, even if they share the same lot number. With the aid of lot numbers and serial numbers, you can track inventory quantities by location. If you run multiple hospitals, clinics, and/or urgent care facilities, you can tell how many medical supplies each one has and needs, and you can make adjustments as necessary to avoid stockouts.


Communication is key to avoiding drug shortages. The people in charge of your stock need to be in contact with the people in charge of finances, and they both need to be aware of what is happening with the doctors who are working with patients and prescribing them medications and treatments. One way to do this is by giving them all access to the same inventory management software. That way, some individuals can see what items are available at certain locations while others are empowered to create purchase orders for more supplies when they are running low. And still others can generate detailed graphs and reports to forecast future inventory requirements according to previous usage trends. With the right tools, you prepare for seasonal flus, sports games and their accompanying injuries, school years and their effect on students’ and teachers’ health, and other events that lead to increases in hospital visits.

If people can make adjustments to inventory quantities to keep the inventory software in alignment with what is actually in stock, it will allow those in charge of that inventory to know when they need to place a new order and replenish their stock. Another failsafe that prevents shortages is the use of automatic reorder points, which automates the reordering process in many ways by telling you when you are in danger of running out of inventory items. These are obviously specialized tasks, requiring user rights to keep your data safe.


Every healthcare professional is familiar with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects patients’ medical records from unauthorized eyes. It is essential to hold your inventory records to this same standard of protection because your inventory is what allows you to provide care to the patients you serve. If unauthorized personnel were to add erroneous numbers of items you have on hand or other data discrepancies, it could cause chaos in hospitals and other care centers that depend on structure and consistency to operate efficiently.

Fishbowl offers granular user rights to allow you to set up specific limitations on what each member of your personnel can see and do in the inventory management software. You can give doctors the ability to check inventory quantities, warehouse managers to cycle-count items, update quantities, and create purchase orders, and accountants to take care of leases, consignments, and Return Merchandise Authorizations (RMA’s).


Healthcare inventory management isn’t always as simple as processing purchase orders, sales orders, and work orders. There are often more complicated situations that require the use of leases and consignments. Some medical equipment is more cost effective to lease rather than purchasing outright, which means you need to be able to track its depreciation, regular payments, and other related issues. Some vendors will send you consigned products that you don’t pay for until you use them or sell them to a third party. It is important to keep track of those, too.

RMA’s are often needed when a customer wants to get a refund, replacement, or substitution of a product they purchased from you. An RMA helps you track incoming and outgoing items that aren’t part of a new sale but are connected to a previous one. Leases, consignments, and RMA’s all affect your finances, which we will cover next.


If your inventory management software isn’t integrated with your accounting software, you will have to add the same information into both of them, which is something often referred to as double data entry. This increases the risk of errors being made as the numbers are added to each solution. To solve this problem, you can integrate them together so that shortly after one is updated, it automatically sends that same information to the other to be recorded.

Fishbowl seamlessly integrates with all desktop versions of QuickBooks, as well as QuickBooks Online, to eliminate double data entry and make sure your inventory and accounting records match up perfectly. Fishbowl can prompt QuickBooks to record transactions in the general ledger, generate invoices, and perform other crucial financial tasks.

Sign up for an online demo of Fishbowl today to find out more about how it can benefit your business by strengthening your healthcare inventory management.


Fishbowl improves healthcare inventory management by offering the following features:

  • Tracking inventory in multiple locations with lot and serial numbers
  • Avoiding shortages of drugs and other medical supplies with auto reorder points
  • Protecting sensitive inventory data with user rights
  • Handling leases, consignments, and RMA’s
  • Integrating with QuickBooks to eliminate double data entry

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