The last thing doctors and nurses want to encounter during patient care is a shortage of critical supplies and inventory. This is one of the reasons why effective inventory and supply chain management are so important in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

It can be difficult to set up optimal inventory and supply chain processes. There are thousands of supplies to manage across many different departments and even between multiple buildings on a medical campus. Without an automated and accurate way to do it all, it can be impossible to accurately account for inventory, track usage rates, locate items, and replenish them before a shortage occurs. You can easily end up with too much or too little inventory.

Thankfully, automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technologies are continuously evolving to keep up with healthcare needs, and building an effective inventory and asset tracking system is easier than ever before.

Most hospitals already use AIDC solutions such as barcode scanners to track inventory and assets. But one of the challenges is having the right form factors for each scanning need, especially when you consider the need for durability, battery power, and germ-resistance to withstand healthcare environments and demands.

This is why healthcare-grade barcode scanners, such as Zebra’s DS8100-HC and DS4308-HC scanners, are an ideal choice for automating inventory processes. They’re purpose-built for healthcare with a first-of-its kind housing that protects against the spread of bacteria, is resistant to harsh healthcare disinfectants, and provides extended battery power, hot-swappable batteries, and user-selectable feedback modes for around-the-clock use.

But scanning also comes in more compact sizes than a traditional barcode scanner, such as Zebra’s Symbol CS4070-HC Companion Scanner. It’s a pocket-sized barcode scanner that provides 1D/2D medical barcode scanning and pairs with any Bluetooth-enabled computer, workstation on wheels, tablet, or smartphone-style mobile computers, such as Zebra’s TC52-HC.

Speaking of the TC52-HC mobile computer, you can also scan barcodes with this device, since it includes a built-in advanced barcode scanner far beyond the capabilities of a typical smartphone device. You can scan 1D/2D barcodes seamlessly while also running all the healthcare and inventory apps you need and accessing secure voice and text communications. The TC52-HC is also specially manufactured with healthcare-grade durability and a disinfectant-ready design.

However, any barcode scanning system ultimately begins with barcode labels, so you can label and then track all your supplies and inventory. To produce labels, you need access to a barcode printer, and this is another area where recent innovations are helping the cause.

Barcode label printers are now available in mobile models that allow labels to be printed on the spot, in virtually any location. And Zebra has created healthcare-grade mobile printers with its ZQ600 devices. Designed specifically for healthcare, they connect via lightning-fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 wireless, and they include a large color display and advanced battery technology for full-shift power. They’re also built with disinfectant-ready plastics, and they’re easy to manage remotely with Zebra’s device management tools.

By combining mobile barcode label printers with your preferred barcode scanning devices, you can quickly label and track healthcare supplies and inventories with a push of a button and the pull of scanner trigger. At Informs, our AIDC experts can also provide the software applications to process your captured data and connect it to your healthcare inventory systems. We can help you design, deploy, and integrate a complete healthcare inventory solution that will put an end to your supplies and inventory headaches.

To learn more and get started with better healthcare inventory management, contact Informs now for free advice and recommendations.