Custom Hospital Inventory Management Software Development [Case Study]

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Max Litvinov

Oct 5, 2021 | 22 min read

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From trying to balance the increasing demand for medical care and costs post the pandemic, to adhering to state regulations and optimizing workflows, the pressure on hospital administration has made efficient healthcare inventory management systems a nonnegotiable necessity in every institution. This short and insightful article will walk you through the process of healthcare inventory software development, to help you get it right the first time and significantly improve the overall management of your hospital. 

Hospitals are busy environments — you have waiting rooms full of patients in need of medical care, doctors and nurses, running around in the corridors, and other hospital staff trying to keep records of every patient that enters the hospital. Developing a hospital inventory management system can help medical professionals and stakeholders overcome the above challenges effortlessly. 

Medical inventory management solutions offer hospitals and clinics the necessary tools needed to streamline their operations. However, it’s important to note that since medical facilities do not have the same requirements, off-the-shelf software is not the best way to go about it. The best solution is custom software development. You need a tailored hospital inventory software that is built specifically to your organization’s needs. 

At Appvales, we have vast experience in building complex software.  We are a software development company with vast experience in the industry, thus, you can rest assured your project will be in good hands. Leveraging our years of experience, below we will walk you through some of the challenges in hospital assets management and explain how a hospital management software (HMS) is created from start to completion. 

Challenges in Hospital Assets Management

Before we delve into the challenges, let’s first explain the meaning of a hospital inventory management system in 2021.

What it is 

The hospital inventory management software helps to streamline all workflows and processes within a healthcare facility. It keeps track of all sales and purchases that are done within the facility, thus accounting for every consumable and non-consumable item within the hospital. Having a good medical device inventory tracking software at hand is what helps medical workers keep all workflows in check.

The challenges

Before a medical facility can enjoy the benefits of using a hospital inventory management system, it is crucial to overcome possible challenges that can arise in the area of assets management. 

Let’s take a look at some of these challenges:

1. Lack of availability of hospital information ready to be imported into HMS

Oftentimes, nurses are responsible for tracking and managing the hospital inventory systems while doctors prepare lists of medical tools or supplies needed. And because these professionals have patients waiting for their care, they usually do not give much effort to keeping hospital information in the right format. The solution here is to ensure that all documents and data to be imported into the Hospital Management System is digitized and formatted properly. Furthermore, a medical inventory system allows them to devote quality time in patient care.

2. No systematized approach to shaping medical workflows for all hospital departments

 A lack of well-documented, error-free hospital processes is a major stumbling block that will significantly hinder the implementation of Hospital Management Systems.   

3. Poor compliance of existing IT infrastructure 

Even if your hospital has the ideal medical equipment tracking software available, the whole system may not function when utilized over weak hardware or poor networking facilities.  

4. Lack of expertise

At times, hospital staff does not receive proper training on how to operate the medical inventory system, and some of them might be computer illiterate. 

5. Poor system maintenance and user support after software implementation 

If your medical facility is in need of software development services, especially medical inventory tracking, Appvales is your best shot

  • Instead of developing from scratch or buying a rigid off-the-shelf software, get a healthcare inventory management system developed by experts in less time.
  • Optimize on cost reduction strategies and increase profitability by adopting the right compliance strategies towards your existing IT infrastructure 
  • Get rid of physical counting and automate healthcare inventory management system with a real-time tracking system.
  • Obtain a better supply chain and greatly reduce supply costs. Technical advancements assist you to augment savings.
  • Save resources and time by making use of cutting-edge, customized systems. 

Core features of Hospital Inventory Management Software

A hospital inventory management system allows the staff to monitor medical equipment and supplies from the time of purchase to consumption. With a fully functional system, healthcare workers can make good use of it to give the best care and avoid being sued for malpractice. You need to know the necessary features that should be part of the hospital inventory management system in order to meet the specific requirements of your medical facility. Here are the necessary features to consider: 

  • Supports multi-device usage

Your hospital inventory management software should work on all devices. This includes laptops, tablets, smartphones (both iOS and Android) This will allow your medical team to easily track and monitor inventory from anywhere, anytime. Any team member who may need to check the availability of supplies can easily look it up on their device.

This means your customized medical supply inventory control system should offer a highly visual inventory of all your supplies and easy access via any device. A cloud-based healthcare inventory management software ensures high responsiveness and the agility to make this happen. 

  • Knows the exact medical stock available

Your medical equipment tracking software should be able to tell the exact stock of medical supplies with the hospital inventory system. The storehouse for hospital inventory management system is crucial to the healthcare industry because it keeps the medicines. If there is any missing hospital inventory, you can check it with help of the healthcare inventory software without any hassles. 

  • Tracks usage

Inventory that is not effectively tracked and monitored can go missing, and where do you start asking at big institutions with so many employees such as hospitals?

Get a medical supply inventory management software system that allows you to know who checked out a certain item and what it was used for. This will help you to easily manage both your employees and the inventory as well. Getting a clear picture of how your inventory is managed is very important for every medical facility. With several users communicating with your inventory regularly, you’ll get an understanding of inventory that has been used right away. Getting this information can help you maintain your inventory as well as your bottom line. Do not hesitate to get in touch with a healthcare inventory company so you can have your own customized inventory solutions medical equipment.

  • User-Friendly Interface

Your medical store management system software should have a user-friendly interface that any medical staff member can use without any hassles. It should be so friendly that your team can be trained to use it in just a couple of minutes, even without having to read a complex manual.  The best solution is to make it very visual.

  • Get timely reminders when vital healthcare supplies dwindle

Running out of hospital inventory can risk the lives of your patients. With the right management software system, you can set low supply notifications that will automatically remind your medical staff when supplies are running out. You can either get in-app notifications or email alerts so you know when to reorder hospital inventory before stocks completely run dry.

  • Control over user access and permissions

Security is highly important. Not all employees should have access to the system so you should be able to get discrepancy reports based on the predefined rules. A good medical device tracking software will let you give access to view, edit information or move items only to those you deem necessary. The software system should allow you to effectively control the medical inventory and audit the usage of equipment and supplies.

  • Data Export and Import Capabilities

A good hospital inventory management software system must allow you to do bulk importing and exporting of data. This will allow you to easily prepare order sheets, audit lists, reports, and training manuals to share with the relevant people.

  • Real-Time Healthcare Inventory Tracking 

A proper inventory management software must be able to inform you in real-time of all the stock you have, where it is, what it looks like, and how to replenish the stock. This will help you avoid wasting time looking for the needed inventory. 

  • Avoid over and under ordering medical supplies

For good inventory control in healthcare, an effective management system should be able to prevent you from under or over-ordering supplies. With just a few clicks, you can get to know all the items that need replenishment. You can also keep track of the slow-moving items and consignment inventory. It makes vendor management, purchasing, and supply much more efficient.

Additionally, a hospital management software system helps you check out the expiration date easily for better management of supplies. This will then allow your medical team to rotate the inventory so that older products are used first before the expiration date and avoid wasting money. The system will help you order only the stocks that you need.

  • Keep both care and administrative teams in the same place

Letting medical staff manage hospital inventories on their own is a bad idea, especially if an employee leaves or moves on to another new job. This means they leave with all their knowledge! However, an inventory management system should let new employee access the data and know-how to operate. All information, such as drug ID, price, adverse effects, or recommended dosage can be easily adopted by a new staff member if it is stored in the system.

  • Train your administration and medical staff

In medical facilities, both the administration and medical staff should be trained on how to operate the management system. The hospital inventory system must be designed in a way that enables both visualization and automation.  When it comes to automation, your system should be able to perform an automated order placement as well as automated expiration dates control. This will make the work for your staff much easier.

  • QR Code or Barcode Scanning

Your medical inventory management software must have a built-in scanner that allows you to rapidly capture all codes and inventory information. Doing this will enable you to reduce administrative errors and labor costs. Your inventory software system should allow you to create your own codes. It must also have the ability to work with your items’ existing barcodes and QR labels. Your medical team must also be able to check out the item, change its location, update its details and add notes.

Architecture of Hospital Inventory Management Solution

The Medical Equipment Management System has ten sub-systems which are: 

  • Basic information
  • Procurement
  • Acceptance
  • Discard, 
  • Maintenance
  • Installation 
  • Verification
  • Warranty inspection
  • Prevent maintenance
  • Contract management. 

These sub-systems were created based on the operational activity of CED, and can be classified into 4 groups according to their operating attribution. 

Group 1: Basic Information 

This group generally provides fixed information to other sub-systems such as inventory information, equipment maintenance vendors, user department, staff data, and their cost center code. This data comes from the Hospital Inventory System and it automatically updates. Whenever a team member makes use of another sub-system and inputs a keyword, the related basic information will be loaded to the relevant field. The mechanic will lower the user’s operating time and increase the correctness of the data.

Group 2: Procurement, acceptance & discard practices

This one has procurement, acceptance, and discard practices. These practices are mainly aimed at document assessment. In this case, the timing record is very important to the daily work activities of engineers in CED. Hospital managers should properly assign medical practitioners to the right job and then monitor how they are progressing. The administrative staff must write down the correct date and time at different conditions such as inspecting, receiving, dispatching, and closing in the service case. When a user inputs the case number, the date, and time data will be automatically reloaded by the inventory system. The history information of related items can be queried by these sub-systems. The maintenance function is used for correcting the error data and offers hospital management authorization for a particular user. 

Group 3: Equipment maintenance & CED repair

This group directs its focus on medical equipment maintenance and the repair of CED, which is the often busiest in Medical Equipment Management System for day-to-day work. For NTUH , the number of repairs amounted to nearly eighty thousand per year. It was mainly used by medical practitioners and hospital administrators, and biomedical engineers in CED. For healthcare providers, it works like an order work system when the equipment experiences a breakdown. For administrators in CED, their major task is to focus on inputting the time to the system when the repair case is in the key point such as dispatch, receipt, user retrieve and close moment. For engineers in CED, their main focus is on inputting the repair content, delay reasons, and the time the repair ended. Biomedical managers can search related statistics from the sub-system to get performance indicators, identify training needs, determine equipment failure trends, and to produce management reports. 

Group 4: Managing systems

The last group focuses on maintenance, warranty, and contract management systems. Here, we focus on managing activities that have the property of a period plan in advance. The management system will send a notice to an engineer based on the crucial time point of the predetermined schedule such as executing preventive maintenance, warranty expired or carrying out the contract service. This information can be triggered by BME to print work orders. This BME has the ability to manage related equipment lists and time schedules. The query function shows a list of requested work orders in a certain period. All the content of performance in the group will be linked to the basic maintenance of data. To make a query by inventory number, the person using it can get related information without any hassles.

How to Build Custom Hospital Inventory Management Software

Here’s how to build an inventory management system:

1. Write the requirements and user stories 

The correct set of modules and functions included in a hospital management software system can vary from facility to facility. Oftentimes, it depends upon the level of medical practice, budget, the complexity of existing business processes, corporate vision, and other related challenges. So it’s necessary to understand the hospital’s requirements and collect relevant user stories before initiating development. A crucial step is to audit the current IT landscape in the healthcare facility and figure out which medical processes need to be automated. This will help the developer cover every aspect of the medical facility’s activities and business operations

2. Plan time and budget

Plan your strategy, write it out and brainstorm with your team for more ideas. Whichever route you decide to take upon, make sure it fits within your budget and timeframe. 

3. Hire a development team or outsource

Your choice of a hospital inventory management software development company can determine whether you’ll enjoy a seamless process or you’ll endure years of regrets and frustrations. Hire or outsource a development team that is fully equipped with the right expertise and can offer the best services in hospital inventory management development. 

4. Test the system

What’s a good development process without actually testing it out! Test the system; give it to a number of users and get their feedback. If there is anything that needs to be attended to, get to it as quickly as you can.

5. Maintain

After testing it out and it comes out well, maintain the system.

How We Built Hospital Inventory Management Software for a Client

We developed a medical device malfunction system to help our client gain more insights, and improve their operations and bottom line. 

Problem + timeframe

Medical practitioners needed to know more on the malfunctions, pros and cons of certain medical devices such as MRI or ultrasound diagnostic devices. Our team of dedicated software developers constantly engaged with clients in the first week of commencing the project in order to come up with the correct design pattern and solution documentation. For the next three months, our work included building the system and testing it out. The whole project was completed in four months.

Features and user stories

To develop this system, we paid close attention to the user stories. The features included statistical reports with detailed charts, as well as user’s capability to add or manage reports concerning device malfunctions. These reports are based on the data obtained from the FDA and the users. 

Solution + tech stack

Working closely with their support team, we developed a system for their specific needs.

We managed to deliver a highly effective system, using the following stack:

Back-end

Dev language: Python

API Framework: Django REST Framework

Database: Postgres

Background task processing (geoprocessing, import process, etc.): Celery + Redis/RabbitMQ

Front-end:

Dev language: JavaScript

Framework: React + Redux + React QR Barcode Scanner + Chart.js

DevOps:

AWS: EC2 – as API and front-end instance; RDS – database storage, S3 – file storage;

Docker: Application was dockerized

CI/CD: Gitlab CI/CD + Ansible

Over to you

Your medical facility should go for a custom hospital inventory management solution if you want to streamline supply processes, identify thefts, avoid having to throw away expired medicines, track the usage or location of inventory, etc. Appvales’ inventory management software development is top-notch and we can deliver a solution tailored to meet your exact requirements. Get in touch with us today!

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Written by:

Max Litvinov

CEO at Appvales

IT enthusiast, investor, entrepreneur. Bringing the offshore mobile development to the next level.

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