When it comes to furniture and equipment inventory, many hospitals rely on internal staff to work through this lengthy but critical process while also delivering on core responsibilities. Inventory surveys help hospitals and large healthcare facilities understand their state of readiness. Fundamental to everyday operations, inventory surveys give facility managers a clear picture of the furniture and equipment owned, what is needed to fit-out a new capital project, what needs to be replaced, and what has the potential for reuse.

Is your next capital project or redevelopment fully equipped? If not, now may be a good time to check on your existing furniture and equipment inventory.

What does an inventory survey involve?

Furniture and equipment (F&E) inventory surveys provide healthcare facilities with a detailed list of their assets. Inventory specialists move through the entire facility, identifying each asset or piece of equipment. They capture 20 to 25 attributes for each item, such as its manufacturer, model, serial number, location, size and condition, to help inform future decision making. Each item is tagged with an asset sticker that uniquely identifies it in the facility. Owners or facility managers can review survey results through a digital dashboard that allows them to track progress every step of the way.

Dashboard

Why is inventory important?

An accurate F&E inventory file is critical for all hospitals. Whether you’re taking stock of the equipment you need to support your next capital project, looking to manage maintenance or warranties, or ensuring that you're prepared to manage a disaster or state of emergency, a comprehensive F&E inventory assessment provides a clear view of your assets, their condition and cost saving opportunities. This proactive process also ensures that your healthcare teams have the right tools to deliver quality patient care.

The third-party advantage

Although this may seem like a simple process, F&E inventory management is essentially a project in and of itself. It requires a plan, schedule, tools and clear communication across all departments to ensure awareness, access and support. Moreover, the ability to accurately and consistently identify hundreds of types of clinical F&E is paramount to maintaining a precise inventory record.

Here’s how procuring a third-party F&E professional can help:

1. Cost

When it comes to F&E inventory surveys, it is a common misconception that performing the project in-house will result in lower costs. While full time employees are paid an annual salary, inefficiencies due to inexperience, repeat work and possible over-time work often result in more direct out-of-pocket costs.

Firms specializing in F&E inventory collection work on a fixed fee basis. They also have the experience, knowledge and tools needed to carry out F&E inventory surveys efficiently. This expertise allows F&E firms to conduct surveys with minimal disruption to ongoing operations, in turn allowing hospital staff to focus on their core responsibilities and the continuous delivery of exceptional patient care.

2. Time

F&E inventory teams engage in work related to clinical F&E each and every day. They are familiar with a wide range of standard and specialized equipment, including diagnostic imaging machines, internet communication technology and clinical furniture. This familiarity also extends to departmental protocols and procedures, which allows specialists to ramp up your project faster, execute it quickly and deliver on time as outlined in a pre-approved project schedule.

Inventory specialist firms also have the ability to provide off-hour survey activities. Sensitive or high traffic departments generally need to be processed in the evenings or during the weekend to avoid operational disruption and maintain patient confidentiality. This is a typical requirement when planning a survey schedule for large healthcare facilities with several program areas.

3. Quality

F&E inventory specialists work with your team to develop a customized data model to ensure the information collected serves as many stakeholders as possible. Specialists work with hospital stakeholders early in the process to identify the attributes to be collected, setting a valuable framework for future use. From that point, their experience allows them to accurately identify assets using their proper name, consistently capture information – such as equipment dimensions – and offer collection techniques that reduce the chance of error at the time of collection.

Once an onsite survey is complete, firms specializing in F&E inventory collection have well thought out quality assurance programs. These programs extend beyond basic workflows to review the information collected and include technology that quickly identifies omission and commissioning errors. Typically, the quality controls used in an overall assurance program are also customized to the downstream uses of a capital project or future facility operations.

Extending F&E inventory responsibility to qualified inventory service professionals who are familiar with hospital operations and capable of helping you alleviate project risk frees your facility's healthcare teams – leaving them ready and able to deliver quality care. Consider connecting with a clinical F&E professional to prepare for your next capital project.

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