Statistical Analysis of Medical Data for Inventory Management in a Healthcare System

Statistical Analysis of Medical Data for Inventory Management in a Healthcare System

Esha Saha (Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India) and Pradip Kumar Ray (Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7591-7.ch008
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Statistical analysis is a powerful technique in the field of healthcare that enables drawing meaningful insights from a study in which medical data are collected through real-time observations, survey, and from medical records. In the field of healthcare, there are several research problems ranging from clinical to operational, such as decisions on organ transplant, operating room planning, appointment scheduling, resource allocation, layout design, demand forecasting, and many more. One such operational problem dealt with in this chapter is the inventory management in healthcare systems. Inventory management in healthcare is an upcoming area of research as efficiently managing inventory acts as a prerequisite for planning and decision making in a healthcare system. This requires statistical analysis of the medical data. The medical data is segmented and summarized using numerical and graphical descriptive statistical methods to draw conclusions in order to significantly help the healthcare personnel in managing the healthcare systems.
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A study on healthcare is expectant with the key purpose of enhancing the service level of the patient. The healthcare organizations have to be prepared beforehand with the various healthcare service providing resources required for effective and efficient treatment of the patients. Individual patients arrive with unique clinical conditions in a hospital in need of certain hospital services; therefore, healthcare units should be prepared with sufficient healthcare inventory items in various units of the hospital and central pharmacy to meet the demand of the patient. (Saha & Ray, 2017, 2018).

Inventory items in healthcare systems include medicines (in the form of tablets, capsules, injections, etc.), single-use medical items (gloves, syringes, catheter, sutures, etc.) and healthcare equipment (surgical equipment, diagnostic equipment, etc.). The medicines are classified based on therapeutic categories applicable for various clinical conditions as life-saving medicines, anti-coagulants, anti-epileptics, anti-infectives, anti-Parkinson medicines, insulin, steroids (oral and parenteral) and strong opioids prescribed regularly for acute or chronic diseases. The decisions regarding how much quantity of these healthcare inventory items need to be stocked in various healthcare units and pharmacy, and when to replenish them is of prime concern in inventory management. There needs to be a balance between the risk of being out-of-stock and having an excess of these healthcare inventory items (Gebicki et al., 2013; Nicholson et al., 2004; Uthayakumar & Priyan, 2013). If profit is the main motive of an efficient inventory management, then it is not of much concern. However, if the life of the patient is involved in the decisions of inventory control, then cost minimization becomes the secondary concern (Bijvank & Vis, 2012; Kelle et al., 2012; Little & Coughlan, 2008). This leads to various challenges and complexities in the study of inventory control from a new perspective for the utility of society in the domain of healthcare. Inventory management decisions are the prerequisite for hospital system design, plan for the budget, contract compliance, allocation of limited resources, etc.

According to World Health Statistics 2018, the healthcare resources include the human resources (physicians, nurses, pharmacists, etc), infrastructure and technologies (hospitals, health centers, diagnostic. clinical labs, etc) and medicines. The allocation of resources varies according to the various health care units. Healthcare units can be structured into government, municipality and private. All these healthcare units provide patient service accordingly. To provide health care services, the patient need to be able to access the facilities available as and when required. For the smooth running of these facilities according to the demand of patient and other medical personnel, proper management of hospital supplies/ materials/resources is essential. Inventory being an idle resource but with an economic relevance enters into the domain of providing patient service as the items required for patient cure need to be available at the point of use of patient before the demand arises as the patient condition may not be always in a position to wait for the availability, accessibility, and affordability of the required resource. Hence, investment in inventory is done by the healthcare units at various levels to prevent shortages. In addition, as the world expenditure budget on healthcare is limited, the secondary concern which is minimizing the cost is also crucial. The continual rise in the pressure by the stakeholder raises the trade-off between cost and service. Hence, minimum cost should be invested on excess inventory.

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