Implementing An Effective Veterinary Inventory Management System

Every practice needs to have a designated veterinary inventory manager who is responsible for inventory control.  Often this individual is a veterinary technician since they are familiar with hospital drugs and medical supplies.  A good inventory manager is detail-oriented and committed to saving the practice money.  The inventory manager should work with the practice manager or owner to be sure inventory costs are kept in line with budgets and industry benchmarks.

Every hospital also needs a well-organized veterinary inventory management system in place to manage inventory.  Some practices find using a computerized inventory system helps to better track products and their usage.  Regardless of whether you use your practice management software or a visual inventory system, determine appropriate quantities to have on the shelf, establish reorder points and reorder quantities for all inventory items and set a schedule for ordering.

If the inventory manager does an inventory count and orders on a regular schedule, the practice is unlikely to run out of products.  Establishing a set day of the week and frequency to place orders also improves efficiency since the inventory manager can allocate specific, defined hours to inventory management.  Usually, orders are placed once or twice weekly (often online) with major distributors to minimize quantities on the shelf and to increase turnover times.  Check expiration dates every week or two when placing orders so you can make arrangements to return product if necessary.

Keep Inventory Prices Updated

Establish price markups in your practice management software for inventory items.  Target markups for most drugs are 140-175 percent of the cost of the medication including sales tax and shipping and 100 percent for heartworm and flea control products.  To compete with online pharmacies, some practices have lowered markups for select products closer to a 50 percent markup.

Set up a protocol for unpacking incoming inventory items and processing inventory invoices.  Place invoices in a designated location for entry into the computer software system.  Assign one or two employees to enter inventory purchases and prices in the computer every week or two to ensure that fees for inventory items are updated as price increases occur.