Home Blog University of IOWA Hospital and Clinics – An Inventory Management Success Story

University of IOWA Hospital and Clinics – An Inventory Management Success Story


This is the success story of University of IOWA hospitals and clinics that used a web-based solution for the purpose of automating their inventory tracking. This resulted in the reduction of on-hand inventory value by more than $150,000 within the first 90 days of implementation.

The management of the interventional radiology department at the University of IOWA Hospital and Clinics were managing devices and supplies inventory manually. This was costing the hospital thousands of dollars. The hospital stated that they used manual methods for keeping track of the gigantic inventory of the medical completely relying on visual checks, physical counting, and other manual methods for keeping track of over 1,300 different items. The worst part was that there was no convenient way for them to track the expiration dates.

In short, with such a large inventory it was impossible for the hospital to stay on top of everything and then make sure every physician has exactly what was needed.

Related: Who is an Inventory Analyst? Key Responsibilities, Skills & Salary

Started to Overstock

To prevent depriving a physician of what is required, the hospital decided to overstock. Why did they feel the need to overstock when they were already under the burden of manually checking the inventory?

It was to meet the standards of the hospital. This hospital has 769 beds and serves as a teaching hospital for the state of IOWA. Each year, around 41,000 patients are admitted. Three of their procedure rooms are in constant use for almost 12 hours a day. For the past six months, the hospital admitted around 528 Neuro patients and 1,248 interventional patients.

We believe the above details can give you a clear picture of how big the hospital is and the number of patients they take care of annually. So yes they had to overstock the inventory to avoid any kind of setback or mishap where a patient is lying on the table and they are short on instruments or a major medicine. So the solution was to implement an advanced tracking system.

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Was this Idea Suitable?

At first the hospital thought it would be a great fit as it would greatly reduce the manual workload. The manager of the hospital even got a green signal from the administration so he decided to do his homework before making a decision to implement it. So the manager traveled to Chicago to get a first-hand look at a secured storage system. But nothing is as easy as it may look from afar right? The system had too many limitations.

Limitations of the Advanced Inventory Tracking System

Even though the system was great yet it had some limitations that were not good for the hospital. It kept track of the inventory and ordering information but failed to provide the data required to make informed purchasing decisions. To elaborate, the system could not give the dollar amount for the entire inventory on hand. Similarly, this system was way out of budget so the manager was not sure whether it would be a great fit for the hospital.

Implementation of a Web-Based Inventory System

So the manager came back disappointed but he knew he had to do something to fix the problem. What happened next is that the manager received a promotional brochure about a web-based solution that he thought could be the answer to the problem. So he checked it out and realized this system is exactly what the hospital needed. So he made contact with the provider and they started the procedure of installing Spacetrax in the hospital.

How Does the System Work?

The implementation of the system occurred over a weekend and the staff members of the hospital helped vendor representatives conduct physical inventory so that they can enter data into the system. The staff was taught how to add products and other things about the system. This web-based tool uses the manufacturer’s barcode information on the products. So you can add or remove the items from the system by scanning barcodes. The database has more than 20,000 items and they are constantly updated by the vendor with new information.

Benefits of Using the Inventory System

  • Even since they started using the web-based inventory system, the manager realized he was able to save around eight or more hours per week spent in physical inventory alone.
  • As this tracking tool operates in real-time, it can also give reports on the value of the on-hand stock.
  • Similarly, it gives all the details of the value of supplies on consignment, product expiration, physician utilization, and more.
  • Next, it allowed the department to reduce the on-hand quantities of almost a quarter of the items that were in stock.
  • The on-hand quantity of each product type was reduced by an average of 42% and this freed up both capital and valuable shelf space.

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Final Thoughts:

As you can see, the manager was able to accumulate additional utilization data and reduce the par levels on certain items as well. These utilization reports were so valuable in educating physicians about practicing patterns and supply costs. The data was then used to make some decisions about product standardization and allowed the department to eliminate redundancies. So, this is how implementing the web-based inventory system resulted in the reduction of on-hand inventory value by $150,000 and even more within the first 90 days of implementation. Had the hospital department still used the manual inventory method, they would have never been able to witness so many reforms and make huge profits.