What Hospital Systems Can Learn from Grocers on Expiration Date Management

Hospital systems have an expiration date management problem. However, they’re not the only industry facing serious challenges when it comes to keeping inventory up to date and safe for their patients (or in other industries: their customers). 

Expiration date management is also a major hurdle for the grocery industry. As you can imagine, grocery store owners need to have a process in place to ensure that the products on their shelves, in their refrigerated cases, and in the deli department are fresh and safe for their shoppers to consumer. Like hospitals, they are in the business of health, and the last thing they want is for a customer to get sick because of their negligence.

This is actually where Date Check Pro got its start. I spent my adolescence working my first job at a grocery store, spot checking expiration dates and realized that there had to be a better way. I worked with my team to develop the first version of Date Check Pro, and the rest is history. When we realized that expiration date management was a problem for industries outside of grocery, we knew that we had to adapt our software to help more people, and their organizations, prevent a potential health disaster.

After years of working with grocers, and identifying key aspects of a successful expiration date management process, I wanted to share some of those tips and tricks with you, as I truly believe that they can help your hospital system improve.

Lessons from grocers

Creating a loss prevention culture is the most important step

If your staff is not on board with your expiration date management and loss prevention strategies, you won’t see a measured impact on your business. Encouraging nurses and physicians to get on board with your new perspective can be difficult, and require consistent behavioral affirmation. Supply hoarding on nurse carts and in patient care rooms is an issue that we see regularly in hospitals – you’ll need to break those habits in order to institute an effective culture.

Proactivity beats manual process

Many hospitals use a two-bin system, wherein the front bin holds closedated inventory and the back bin holds the products with expiration dates that are the furthest out. When the front bin runs out the bins are switched and the process begins again. Unfortunately, this manual process leaves too much room for error, and isn’t proactive enough to catch low volume high ticket supplies and equipment before they expire.

Get smart about your purchasing

It’s just as important to limit the purchasing of products that tend to expire as it is to find and remove products that have already expired in your supply room. Keeping track of the movement of your inventory will help you make informed decisions when it comes time to place your next order.

Shrink adds up – big time

According to a study completed by the National Academy of Medicine,  the U.S. healthcare system wastes $765 billion a year. This exorbitant number includes waste caused by expired shrink, and showcases just how much of an effect a poor expiration date management process can have on your hospital system.