Lerch Bates Inc. Building Insight

Global Leaders in Technical Consulting for the Building Industry

Supply Storage in Healthcare Facilities

Proper supply storage in healthcare facilities help to increase work efficiencies and decrease nursing and materials management workloads.

Supply storage options in Healthcare facilities can include pallet racks, flow racks, standard and wire shelving, horizontal and vertical carousels, specialized wall bins, nurse servers or automated dispensing machines. How do you know which options to use within your facility? The determination of which option to use is easier than you think. First, establish the criteria that will be used to make your decision. We would recommend first to identify the different type of storage locations within your facility. These areas include patient room, decentralized clean utility room, centralized supply room, surgery, emergency, materials management and warehouse. Different supply areas will have different needs and thus require different equipment. (A Supply Chain manager would not put pallet supply racks in a decentralized clean utility room). Build a matrix to indicate which storage options are appropriate for each supply area. Click the link below to see an example of a storage chart matrix.

Supply Storage Chart

Please note that the cells containing a red dot indicate where the storage option is appropriate for that hospital operation.

The second criteria for deciding the appropriate storage option is using a financial analysis model to evaluate the cost impact of alternative under consideration. (An example is evaluating standard shelving, wire shelving, wall bins or automated dispensing machines for central supply rooms.) The financial model would take the following costs into consideration:

  • Labor (Supply Chain Technicians, Nurses, etc.)
  • Restocking
  • Equipment
  • Leasing
  • Inflation
  • Associated Construction
  • Repair and Maintenance

A life cycle costing model will indicate which option has the greatest financial justification. The third, and last, criteria is how flexible is the configuration of the storage option. Some facilities use built-in shelving and bins since these areas will not be remodeled. However, housekeeping becomes more difficult trying to reach under the lowest shelves. In addition, built-in units do not have the ability to adjust shelving up or down. Both of these issues do not arise when using mobile (wheeled) shelving.

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