Manage Your IOL Inventory Efficiently Use technology to streamline workflow, document lens use and inventory BY MICHAEL B. RIVERS, MD

Ophthalmology surgeons are experts at multitasking. On a typical day, a busy ophthalmologist manages multiple back-to-back sur-

geries and might perform 30 or more cataract procedures. An efficient oph- thalmology ASC operates as a well- oiled machine: Patients come in the front door with cloudy lenses; they are prepped for surgery by nursing staff, seen by the ophthalmologist, go through a routine surgery to implant or replace an intraocular lens (IOLs), and are then sent out the door with their sight happily improved. What is not so smooth, however,

is the management of inventory for the many types of IOLs used in cata- ract surgery along with the surgical packs needed during a procedure. Most ASCs manually update spreadsheets to track inventory. This process is time- consuming, inefficient and challeng- ing to keep accurate. Since inventory is typically an ASC’s second highest over- head expense—highest being staff— improving inefficiencies with the help of technology is a must. Let’s look at the challenges of managing inventory and potential solutions.

Automate Lens Use Documentation and Inventory

More and more ophthalmologists are moving toward ASCs as they are effi- cient and offer excellent care without the hassles of a larger hospital setting. At any given time, a small ASC might have between 200 and 800 IOLs onsite, while a larger ASC might have as many as 4,000, all with different attributes. Like an assembly line, different power lenses must be fully stocked and doc- umented. In addition, many surgeons


According to the National Eye Institute, roughly 24.4 million Americans had cataracts in 2010, and that number is projected to grow to 50.2 million by the year 2050, making the importance of efficient inventory tracking technology a growing need.”

— Michael B. Rivers, MD Modernizing Medicine

have surgical pack preferences to inven- tory as well. With storage at a premium, having the right lens for the patient— and surgeon—is a balancing act that needs to be carefully orchestrated. This is often managed by manually updating a spreadsheet or using a practice man- agement system, but neither of those processes is seamless.

Of course, there is an added layer of

complexity if something other than a standard single vision lens is required, for example, if a patient opts to correct an astigmatism or prefers a multifocal lens. In that case, on top of efficient inventory management, coordination with the patient’s insurer to manage out-of-pocket expenses also falls on the ASC and the ophthalmologist. In addition to tracking hundreds

of IOLs and surgical packs weekly/ monthly, ASCs also must keep records of which patient received which lens to report to the Food and Drug Administra- tion (FDA). Those records must be easily

accessible in the rare case of a recall so affected patients can be contacted. ASC nurses wear multiple hats,

inventory manager being just one of many. They prep the patient, fill out the paperwork, answer the patient’s ques- tions and act as the “front desk” to keep track of appointments and inventory. Without adequate technology, ASC nurses often rely on spreadsheets, paper and pen, and monthly inventory audits to manually keep track. This is incon- venient and could lead to inaccuracies. Technology can help solve many of these challenges by streamlining workflows and automatically doc- umenting lens use and inventory, which can help decrease the burden on nurses and staff while helping to increase operational efficiencies.

What Should an Ophthalmology ASC Inventory Management System Look Like? Right out of the gate, an automated inven- tory management solution can improve ASC workflow in many ways. As easy as scanning the barcode of an IOL or sur- gical pack, a digital inventory manage- ment system can record lens specifica- tions and update surgical documentation along with the patient’s electronic med- ical record (EMR). If the system detects an issue or a shortage of lenses needed for an upcoming surgery, an automatic flag can be sent to the staff to reorder. With a typical operation lasting only

five to eight minutes, speed is important at an ophthalmic ASC, and cumbersome technology is not an option. For a busy cataract surgeon, it is quite common to work between two operating rooms. While performing an operation in room A, nurse staff preps the next patient in room B. Then, while operating in room

The advice and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent official Ambulatory Surgery Center Association policy or opinion.

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