How to Do a Physical Inventory in a Pharmacy

by WeCare Marketing
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It’s critical for pharmacies to maintain a thorough understanding of current inventory. Underestimated inventory levels can cause shortages, which frustrates customers and can reduce business. On the other hand, an overestimate can mean an unnecessary surplus, which increases inventory carrying costs and creates obsolesce when medications expire. A physical inventory count, while time-consuming, is the best way to confirm inventory levels.

Inventory Counts for Perpetual and Periodic Systems

Regardless of whether your pharmacy runs a periodic or a perpetual inventory system, you’ll have to perform a physical inventory count at some point. However, the timing and scale generally differ. Larger pharmacies that move a large amount of inventory tend to use perpetual systems. Perpetual inventory systems utilize point-of-sale scanners to automatically update inventory counts after every delivery or purchase.

Still, mistakes happen and perpetual inventory pharmacies should perform a count once or twice a year to verify inventory accuracy. On the other hand, small pharmacies with less inventory may manually count inventory through a periodic system. These pharmacies should perform inventory counts on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Before Counting

Prior to initiating the inventory count, clear out the shipment receiving area. You don’t want to accidentally count recently received inventory that hasn’t yet been entered into the accounting system. Similarly, if there are any lingering medications that have been sold but not yet distributed, clearly mark them and set them aside. It’s simplest to perform the inventory count after business hours to minimize confusion and ensure the process doesn’t disrupt business operations.

Counting Procedures

Create a few counting teams that correlate with the size and organization of your inventory. Assign each team to count a specific inventory medication category. Subaccounts by medication category make it easier to retrace mistakes if the end inventory count doesn’t match current perpetual records. Assign one team member to perform the inventory count and another to record the counting results.

Verifying Results

If the pharmacy uses a perpetual inventory system, compare the results of the count to current records. Prohibit inventory counters from accessing current records — otherwise, the counters may change their figure to match the records to minimize extra work. If there is a discrepancy between the count and current records, assign another team to perform a blind recount of the problem category to verify accuracy.

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