Do you know if a “special price” is really a bargain? Do you know from whom you purchased last time? At what price? At what quantity? When to reorder? The ideal order and inventory program can do this for you…
Inventory control sounds like one of those dry subjects you might study in business school. It has about as much appeal as a cup of hot chocolate in the middle of Summer. However, when you are running a practice, it takes on a whole new meaning. A large part of the expenses is tied up in supplies and equipment and your bottom line can be changed by proper management of these valuable resources.
Does this sound familiar to you? You’re looking for an item and it’s not in your exam room. Your assistant runs in the back looking and there are none to be found. How about this? You look in the storage area and find that there are several shelves full of an item that you just don’t seem to be using much of lately. In each case you are losing money. It has happened to me and I am sure it has happened to everyone at least once.
Consider an alternative scenario: You are treating a patient and need something that isn’t routinely set out for you. When you or your assistant go to look for it, you have a few available and the program tells you where it is located. Or, when checking your storage area you notice that you have just what you will need in the near future and nothing more. In one case, you are able to treat the patient the way you want at the time and in the other, you are avoiding an excess of inventory on the shelves. Excess inventory ties up your cash flow since you have paid for those supplies and they are not being used. Similarly, it costs you money to have to reschedule your treatment because you did not have the proper supplies available.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a complete ordering and usage history at your disposal? If you have a multi-practitioner practice, wouldn’t it be great to be able to allocate usage of those supplies to each practitioner? Now you can. The high-tech age of computers offers a wide variety of services to our practices, and inventory control is no exception.
When a sales person enters your office and tells you about the special promotion they are having this month you could look up your orders for those items on sale. Instant price comparison! You may find that you have been getting some pretty good prices from a particular supplier without a “special.” If the salesperson wants your business, he will probably be willing to give you a better price on those items. They say knowledge is power and this is a case in point.
Computers are great at storing information and giving it back to you in any form you desire. The ideal order and inventory control program can do this for your practice. When you enter an order to be placed, the computer reminds you of the quantity to order, from whom you purchased it the last time and the price you paid. It calculates the unit price as well. It keeps an on-going record of the quantity on hand and reminds you when it is time to re-order various items. Certain items are best checked on a periodic basis. The ideal system will remind you to check these items at the predefined intervals so you can make sure that you don’t run out.
The ideal system would store the information about all of your suppliers along with the product numbers for each combination of item and supplier. This information would automatically become part of your order.
A feature that would be important to multi-doctor practices or multi-location practices is the ability to track usage of items by provider. Generally there is a code that is user-defined to represent each provider or location (or combination of the two). This code can be used to define reports as to quantity and frequency of use by those providers and/or locations.
As already mentioned, computers are great at retrieving information and the ideal system would have an abundant choice of reports available to monitor your orders, inventory and usage patterns. It would also be to your advantage to have a custom report generator included. No matter how many reports are predefined, you may find that there is just one more that you would like to have. With this feature, you can define any report you like in order to access any pieces of information that are stored in the system for the ultimate flexibility.
There is a lot more to inventory control than one would first think. By being in tune with the pertinent information about your supplies, you have the opportunity to conserve your financial resources. You have the knowledge about usage patterns, quantity on hand and price histories, to name a few, and this information will make you a savvy consumer and business person.” “David Rosen, DMD, MBA, currently in private practice in Lexington, Mas-sachusetts, received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston. Dr. Rosen serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Periodontology at Tufts University where he teaches the supervision of diagnosis and treatment of patients to second-year periodontal students. Dr. Rosen holds four patents related to implant abutments for orthodontic anchorage, in addition to creating and developing two software applications. He developed a software program called Ordertrak to match his clinical needs that has been used in medical fields for four years and is available from Software Innovations of Lexington, MA.