Department of Veterans Affairs

Online inventory mangement and Bar code tracking in VHA

Across the Veterans Administration Hospitals, expensive disposable and implantable equipment used for patients undergoing a variety of medical and surgical procedures is mismanaged with an archaic, paper-based inventory system. Due to the absence of current inventory information, existing inventory expires on the shelf, even as orders are placed for the same equipment again. Further, the lack of online access to information regarding available inventory and where items are physically located translates into delay or even denial of care.

 

Save Award Proposal:

The solution is to use one of several commercially available on-line inventory management systems combined with a bar-code tracking system for each item.

The proposed solution would track inventory from the time it is ordered to the time used supplies are properly disposed. Tracking will be accomplished with barcode readers, such as are used in libraries and grocery stores. Every activity will also be associated with the person performing it. The date/time of the receipt will be automatically entered into the record for that shipment. If the shipment contains multiple boxes, the barcode on each box is also scanned and validated against the shipment manifest to ensure all boxes are accounted for.

 

When a box is opened, the employee badge is scanned, as are the barcodes of the packages contained in the box, and the location of the packages in the storeroom updated. This process continues to the smallest package identified with barcodes. After that individual items are tracked by count. Every inventory activity is date/time stamped to give complete audit capability. Returns of used supplies will be similarly tracked until they are disposed properly.

 

Tracking and barcode reading will be accomplished by handheld devices programmed in a “forced-march” manner to ensure that every step is performed and every item can be tracked and inventory managed in real time.

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Idea No. 8605