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  • Writer's pictureJessica Tillman

MTS Blog: What measures should med device MFGs consider in preparation for ...

Recently, we sat down and wrote a post detailing what medical device manufacturers can take away from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The response was significant, so we wanted to expound on one of the potential lessons we highlighted - utilizing the down time to take stock of inventory.

Here’s what we said in our original post: “Whether you use iTraycer, a competitor, or an internal process, now is a great opportunity to take stock of inventory. Are your ratios accurate across the country? This too shall pass, and when it does, we need to be ready for the influx in scheduled surgeries.” The fact that many elective surgeries have been postponed as a response to the virus is simply out of our control. However, we can try to remain proactive about our preparation for the post-Coronavirus (COVID-19) environment. The three categories we will focus on are the quality, quantity, and location of inventory.

Quality – This one is simple enough. While most kits have pre-established thresholds, this could be a great opportunity to inspect and refurbish older tools and components.

Quantity - One possible response is to coordinate with your sales reps and take the time to identify and count the inventory in their possession. It’s no industry secret that kits are often misplaced or go missing altogether from time to time. Performing these inventory counts will allow all of us to establish data points you can be confident in moving forward. We should expect peaks and valleys in surgery volumes as social distance measures are taken and/or removed which is why it is critical to know how many active kits can be accounted for.

Location - It’s possible that, prior to the pandemic, surgery volumes were already decreasing in specific geographic locations, but the inventory was never pulled back in kind. Pulling under-utilized inventory back from these regions will be crucial once surgery volumes ramp up again. To emphasize this point, it’s probably a safe assumption that there will be time lapses or a ‘catch-up’ effect in cities such as Miami and New York. For an undetermined amount of time these cities may not be performing any elective surgeries, but as social distancing measures are reduced, these surgeries will spike. Knowing where your kits are at any given time will be paramount to success.

We understand that at this time most hospitals are restricting rep access, so having sales reps pull inventory for you that is positioned in hospitals is probably unlikely. However, through years of Field Inventory counts, ride alongs, relationships with reps, etc. it is clear to us that much of your field inventory may be housed in the backs of cars, in lockers, at reps’ homes, or in their distributor offices. Getting even 5% or 10% of your inventory back during this surgical downtime will be vital to meet the spikes that are anticipated as we start to see elective surgery restrictions loosened city by city and state by state.

What do you continue to learn from this experience? Are you taking any proactive measures we didn’t think of? Please let us know in the comments! Be well and stay safe everyone.

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