By Mareo McCracken
Case Study: The Future of Orthopedic Implantable Inventory Management and Tracking
Michele C., is the Operations Manager of a Large, Independent Orthopedic Distributor
“The system is the ’Employee of the Month’ every month.”
Michele has been an operations leader for one of the world’s largest orthopedic companies for over 15 years. Inventory management and tracking is vital to Michele’s business. In her words,
“My success is dependent on my ability to provide accurate and reliable data to HCPS, Sales, the distributor, and the network.”
Yet Michele was not able to get accurate information. Her days were filled with hours of tracking down inventory. Michele’s territory was notorious for moving inventory between physical locations without telling her or the operations team, so finding product for surgery was almost always a wild goose chase.
“Surgery prep took many more hours to days to complete, flying blind to find inventory, sometimes ordering additional sets (meaning additional time and money spent by corporate to bring inventory to the distributorship) to complete the case.”
Michele identified cycle counting as another huge pain point for her distributorship. The cycle counts and audits were often not clearly defined, required lots of preparation and manpower to complete, and were prone to error.
“Cycle counts entailed weeks with long hours of preparation only to find that they would take a sampling of inventory, perhaps two accounts and 10 items within the warehouse, and rate the distributorship by this ‘simple’ sampling that quite often was of no use to either us or corporate.”
In 2011, Michele’s corporate headquarters decided the entire business would adopt the new inventory platform offered by the team at Movemedical. To facilitate the adoption process, several “train-the-trainer” bootcamp sessions were offered by Movemedical. It was these trainings that Michele felt gave her the advantage.
“Being totally immersed into the platform bootcamp, helped me to transition easier than some of my counterparts who had dealt with an antiquated system for years.”
After the bootcamp, Michele was provided with the materials and tools needed to get her team up to speed on the new system. She gained access to several hundred user guides, how-to’s, FAQs, videos, and testing materials to ensure that her team could best understand and utilize the system. Michele wasted no time in training her team on the proper use of the system because she knew the value at hand.
Inventory tracking in the new system is much easier and more accurate than ever before. High adoption rates by the sales force means that almost all surgeries and inventory requests (98%+) are visible to the operations team. Michele can now quickly and in real time follow lot numbers from their replenishment by the distribution center to their usage/implantation, all the way to bill generation, and ultimately invoice capture.
“I could go on and on, as there are many features that help build-in time, clearly define operation roles, and eliminate duplicate steps within teams. Usage capture from the mobile app, ease of locating inventory at the click of a button, research capability of keywords within the corporate tree, movement between distributor inventory and sourcing from Central Inventory/Loaners.”
Michele’s process keeps getting more streamlined because the system has continued to evolve over the years with new features frequently being added to support the needs of the business. She has had several favorite features, but being able to manage her time better has been by far the most important benefit:
“My time is not tied up in mountains of paperwork in tracking inventory or reviewing old warehouse receivers to find inventory discrepancies.”
Michele was recently asked to provide her opinion on the future of orthopedic sales and distribution. She feels that tighter controls around inventory levels will be required, as there is increasing emphasis on operating “lean.” Along those same lines, she can see the need for more precise patient measurements to ensure that less inventory needs to be shipped back and forth from surgery. She anticipates the need for more direct communication between hospitals and distributors and can see a changing distributor model where reps spend less time in surgery and more time educating and acting as product ambassadors. Regardless of what the future holds, Michele is confident in her team and her ability to adapt using the software created by Movemedical.
The Future is Here
Movemedical has now built a user-agnostic platform that is able to serve the entire industry. Since FDA regulations never get simpler and manufacturing costs continue to rise, every medical device company can benefit from streamlining and simplifying inventory loaning, inventory tracking, UDI management, and cycle-counting processes in order increase efficiency, optimize asset utilization, and reduce costs.