This project is under way, and will run until December 2021.

  • Run by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Aiming to improve pharmacy inventory management in the trust, free up staff time and reduce stock shortages.
  • Will develop, test and implement an analytical tool that will forecast medicine demand and support inventory management practice.

The use of analytics to support effective inventory management is widespread in sectors such as retail and manufacturing, but its application in health care has lagged behind. Pharmacy inventory management involves the processes of ordering, receiving and storing drugs, with the aim of ensuring drug availability while keeping costs down and working within storage capacity constraints.

This project involves the pharmacist-led development, testing and implementation of an open-source analytical tool that will support and improve existing inventory management practice within Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

An inventory management model will be developed which incorporates uncertain delivery lead times, flexible ordering schedules and storage constraints. Various forecasting methods that predict medicine demand over an order horizon will be tested and compared. The chosen forecasting methods will be combined with the inventory management model and tested in a simulation, using historical dispensing data, then run in parallel with the current inventory management system for comparison.

The effectiveness of the tool will be assessed in terms of overall cost (inventory costs and staff time), how often stock shortages occur and the clinical severity of these shortages. The project team anticipate that the tool will improve pharmacy inventory management, release staff time for higher value clinical work and reduce stock shortages.

The development of the tool draws on local expertise in the development of open source analytics in R, and academic expertise in health care modelling. The tool will be able to be configured for use in other pharmacy settings in the NHS.


For more information about this project, please contact Hazel Kirkland, Lead Pharmacist – Health Informatics, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

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