Hospital Inventory Management Best Practices

Hospital inventory management best practices

Exceptional inventory management is required to handle all of the modern challenges faced by hospitals, and we are going to cover a number of best practices to help you make the most of your healthcare resources. The first best practice that applies to everything else concerning hospital inventory management is to start using inventory management software. Doing so gives you the following advantages:

  • User rights to allow access and protect sensitive data.
  • Advanced inventory management features to empower employees.
  • Automatic reorder points and other means of preventing stockouts.
  • Serial number and lot number tracking.
  • Software integrations and swift data updates.

We will discuss these best practices in greater depth below.


User rights accomplish two purposes simultaneously. They enable employees to perform complex tasks faster than they could manually, and they protect a company from data breaches by limiting access to authorized personnel. Not only that, but they also limit access to specific features within the software for each user. Administrators can grant access to certain modules within Fishbowl that apply to individual workers’ jobs. For example, doctors don’t need to receive inventory like warehouse workers do, but they may want to order specialized treatments and other supplies to meet patients’ needs.

Granular user rights in inventory management software allow administrators to grant access to certain features within each module so that employees are not overwhelmed by unnecessary features. They only see the software tools that they need to use for their jobs. Plus, you can perform audits to see what changes were made by which users to ensure accountability. This enables you to quickly trace errors to their source and resolve any issues.


When implementing a new inventory management solution, you need to be aware of the fact that there is a learning curve for everyone as they begin to use it. You should make sure all of your personnel, who are going to have access to the inventory management solution, are properly trained on how to use it. The training doesn’t have to be comprehensive for everyone. As we noted in the last section, only a handful of administrators need to know the software inside and out. Doctors and other workers can receive more specialized training on the few features they will be required to use on a daily basis.

It’s a good idea to check in periodically with workers to see how they are doing with the software, find out if there are new features they don’t know about yet, and get feedback and feature-enhancement requests you could pass on to the makers of the software. When everyone is on board with using the software as it is intended to be used, you will see your hospital’s operations become much more streamlined and efficient.


For a hospital, stockouts may be a matter of life and death. The absence of something as small as a syringe, surgical suture, or life-saving medication makes a big difference for patients and doctors. Inventory management software alleviates the problem of stockouts by offering automatic reorder points. You can look at each item’s usage and determine the absolute minimum number you need to keep in storage to prevent shortages. Then, when an item reaches its minimum quantity, the software will alert you that it is time to reorder it.

Unexpected surges in hospitalizations or other unusual circumstances will sometimes be too much for even the best inventory management planning. That is why, in addition to auto reorder points, inventory management software also offers transfer orders as a way to mitigate stockouts. If you run multiple hospitals and one of them is short on a certain item, you can quickly issue a transfer order for that item from a different hospital or other location that has an excess quantity. This doesn’t replace the need to reorder the item, of course, but it acts as a bridge to tide a facility over until a new shipment arrives.


Serial numbers and lot numbers are the most popular methods of inventory tracking for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The reason for their popularity is because they meet a variety of needs. Need to find a specific item when there are literally hundreds of duplicates of it in the system? Just search for it by its serial number. Each item receives a unique serial number when it is added to your inventory management software. That way, you can tell them all apart.

Lot numbers help with more broad tracking needs. They are associated with an entire batch or shipment of goods, so if you need to track down all of the items that were received at a specific time or from a specific vendor, you can simply use their lot number to find them all. Additionally, you can use revision levels, expiration dates, and many other criteria to track your inventory. In fact, depending on the inventory management software you use, you may even be able to create custom tracking criteria if the standard ones are not enough.


What good is an inventory management system if its facts and figures are out of date? New information needs to be constantly fed into it in order for it to reflect the latest quantities, orders, transfers, etc. This can be accomplished with the aid of barcode scanners to make sure the correct items are selected before adjusting their quantities, locations, and/or other details. By maintaining up-to-date records, you enable workers to make the best use of existing resources and plan ahead for future needs.

Another way that inventory management software can help in this regard is by integrating it with other solutions you are using. These can include accounting software (e.g., QuickBooks and Xero), shipping solutions (e.g., DHL, FedEx, OnTrac, UPS, and USPS), and merchant services (e.g., Authorize.Net, CardConnect, and Square). Be sure to research the inventory management software you plan to implement to make sure it integrates with all of the business solutions you are already using.


As we noted at the start, the first best practice you can do right now to improve your hospital inventory management is to get an inventory management solution. Fishbowl is the #1 inventory management solution for QuickBooks, and it offers all of the features mentioned above, plus many more. Getting Fishbowl today might just be the best thing for your practice!


Inventory management software is the best way to keep track of your hospital’s assets. It allows you to use access rights, in-depth software training, auto reorder points, inventory tracking, and integrations with other business solutions, among other hospital inventory management best practices.

Get a Demo