As you get your health informatics masters, you are going to learn about procuring and stocking supplies. This will be a large part of the job that you get when you have your degree. You may not be involved in the ordering yourself, but you will work on the IT systems that allow for the transfer of information. This information could relate to the current inventory, the needs of people in your facility – such as a hospital – and the projected future needs of the population. You have to make sure that this all works so that the right things are ordered and stocked.
If things are allowed to go out of stock entirely, it can create huge problems. This is not like managing the inventory at a store. If you forget to order some books for a bookstore, for example, you might miss out on a few sales. You might have to tell customers to come back the next day, when you actually get the books in. At a hospital, though, people do not have any time to wait. They need the supplies right away; their lives could depend on it. Therefore, it is important that you never run out of anything, no matter how trivial it seems.
As such, the standard practice that many hospitals use is to order far more of everything than they think that they are going to need. Much of the equipment does not have an expiration date; some medications have to be fresh, of course, but things like bandages and gauze will virtually last forever. It is far better to have a whole storage closet that is full of things that people are not using than to run the risk of telling someone that they cannot get a proper bandage because you used up the last one yesterday.
The most important part of any IT system that deals with this, then, is the part that alerts the procurement officers when supplies are running low. As soon as anything drops below a specific level, an alert needs to be sent out to make sure that a new order is placed. This level should be set higher than the realistic need. For example, if it takes two weeks for new supplies to get there after they are ordered, the alert should go out as soon as the supplies hit the four-week level, providing time for delays.