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The Importance and Process of an Asset Inventory & Tagging

An Asset Inventory and Tagging is an opportunity to correct financial ledger data to a standardized nomenclature, to clear up any ghost assets (for-profit organizations may see a property tax reduction from this), and to better identify equipment needs (where equipment is lacking or requires replacing). Asset tags improve the accuracy of future revisions to data in your asset ledger by allowing verification that the asset tag number observed on the physical asset matches the tag information on the asset record about to be modified.

The Asset Inventory and Tagging process begins with the definition of scope and requirements.

The scope - which items are included and which are not - should match your capital threshold (for more on this, check out this blog). Additionally, if your asset ledger contains items located at sites other than the main facility, you will need to determine which sites are included in the inventory. (If a site does not contain items within the threshold, it would be most sensible to exclude it from the inventory.)

Requirements will address, at the least, the tags to be used, and the amount of information to be captured. Asset tags provide a unique identifier for each asset by way of a barcode number. Before you get started on the inventory, you need to define exactly which kind of tags you will be using, approximately how many will be needed, and how the tags should be affixed to assets. There are many different types of tags available; be sure to select one that can withstand the intensive cleaning requirements of a healthcare environment.

The amount of tags you will need for an inventory will depend on the size of your facility and estimated number of assets to be tagged (this may be lower for a facility consistently using tags already). As mentioned in a previous post, take care to also standardize methodology of tag application. For example, instruct the Inventory and Tagging team that tags should be attached to assets on the upper right corner of the front of the item; this will improve efficiency of data collection on future Inventories.

Set forth the types of information to be recorded for each asset during the inventory.

We recommend collecting the following pieces of information for each asset (as a system):

  • Asset Tag Number

  • Equipment Type (this is the standardized name)

  • Manufacturer

  • Model

  • Age

  • Location 1 (Building/site name for Inventories including sites in addition to the main facility)

  • Location 2 (Department or Room)

  • Serial Number (where feasible and helpful; examples: medications dispensing, ventilators)

  • Notes (used as needed for any additional identifying information)

Next plan your resources and schedule.

Both the size of the Inventory team and the time required to complete the process will be driven by a number of factors:

  • The size of your facility (and whether you have any off-site locations to include)

  • the estimated number of assets to be inventoried (including those already tagged, because information must still be captured on those)

  • The amount of time in which you would ¬†ideally like the inventory and tagging to be completed (you'll want to keep this to a minimum so that bringing the asset ledger current after reconciliation won't take too much work)

Once the Inventory work is complete, be sure to allow plenty time in your schedule for reconciliation of the data collected then to the asset ledger. To avoid errors, this portion of the work is best completed by a single person.

As you decide when to begin the inventory and tagging, check in with department directors to advise them of the process (so staff will be aware the Inventory Team will be in their areas, including those with patients) and to learn of any potential scheduling conflicts.

Ask what is the best time of day to get into Surgery to perform the inventory (when their cases start wrapping up for the night), and schedule specific times to inventory areas that can be challenging to access, such as IT, Radiology, and Pharmacy.

While the process of Inventory and Tagging is rather involved, its benefits are great. Once the Inventory Team has completed their work, the data gathered is reconciled to the asset ledger, resulting in a much more accurate record of your facility's assets that will be easier to navigate and to maintain. If you've chosen to use asset tags, the tag numbers can also be useful for coordinating relocation activities.

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