When starting out or even improving your supply inventory, there is lots to think about. During the initial planning, I broke up my practice into different section of required inventory to function efficiently. I needed office supplies, prenatal visit supplies, birth center supplies, home birth supplies, and administration supplies. There was specific inventory listed that were later used for staff to restock when things were close to expiring or getting low.
Picture your midwifery practice, what is the volume and setting you will be serving. What challenges will come from having a birth center and home birth practice under one business? There will be double supplies of everything at both locations (car for home births and birth center for deliveries there). How many midwives will work with your team? If you are solo, much easier to keep track of inventory and systems than a group of midwives with multiple birth bags.
How will your office flow be? Will there be lab draws on site or sent to the local hospital to be drawn? We did lab draws in house and had to reorder supplies from LabCorp when things were getting low. Start with an excel spreadsheet and just start brainstorming ever item you can think of will be needed to care for women. Picture yourself doing an office day, what will be needed to answer phones, keep track of charts, fax out orders, print educational handouts, see women for prenatal visits, waiting room reading material and toys for kids. My initial brainstorming list had start up supplies versus routine restocking items.
For example, during a prenatal visit my room had in a side basket next to my chair the following: doppler, lubricant, tape measure, sterile and nonsterile gloves, disposable blue pads, clipboard, paper, pens, urine dipsticks, stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, alcohol swabs, hand sanitizer, and more commonly used educational handouts. I had the basket into two sections, items I always used for each visit like the doppler, tape measure, and blood pressure supplies and the other section had things nice to keep close by but not always used. Charts were already prepped for the busy office day night before and had everything ready for each lady’s specific needs prior to start of the day.
If someone was coming in that day for her diabetes screening, the Medical Assistant already got her lab order and specific lab supplies ready in a biohazard bag in her chart for me to grab when doing her visit. This saves lots of time running in out of the prenatal visit to grab random supplies when seeing families.
For birth supplies, make a list of essentials for safety, things it would be nice to have, and things that are on a wish list. Sometimes budgets are tight starting out and until your first few payments from clients come in, you may need to work with bare bones / essentials at birth for a while. It would be great to have a nice birth stool, but not a must in the beginning. Make sure you have oxygen and ambubag for newborn resuscitation, thermometer, stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, charting paperwork, birth instruments, medications for bleeding, doppler for listening to baby with spare batteries and lubricant. Be resourceful with your funds, but never compromise safety for a few bucks.
Water birth had additional equipment needed. Have the families be responsible for the purchasing of a birth tub and clean up initially. As your volume increases, you can look into having a stock birth pool with liners and training an assistant to clean up tub in time. Think simple and grow as your practice seasons.
Administration equipment isn’t something many midwives spend much time thinking about. Trust me, the more planning with administration prep, the better your overall practice flow will go. Find tools and resources that will make your time be utilized better. Birth Tracks is a great resource to keep track of your phenomenal outcomes to brag about to community. Having a great printer, internet service, computer, phone with head set for receptionists, fax machine, chart holder and organizer, online storage system like Google Drive, lap tops, EMR charting system like Athena Health, or billing system like Midwives Advantage are very important to research and get the best products for your needs.
Think of equipment that will work for start up and long term needs. Getting the cheapest doppler isn’t always the best idea. Having two dopplers that are waterproof is a must. Don’t skimp on safety and quality (hear me say that lots)! We all became midwives to help women birth their baby in a safe environment, whether hospital, home, or birth center. We are hired by families with assumption of proper training, equipment, and skills present to do just that service.
Every practice will be different detailed equipment needs depending on state regulations, size of practice, and setting of delivery. Spend some time researching what other midwives have for equipment in the office and birth environment. Personalize your inventory list and plan accordingly in budgets for costs in beginning and monthly for replacement of items.
What is the radius area you will serve? Last thing any midwife wants is to run out of an item, because proper inventory organization or delegation of ordering task wasn’t being completed by team. Births happen in waves. I always carried in my car enough supplies to do four births in a row before I had to go restock. Max I had to test that was three ladies in a row.
Plan your day that if a birth happens, do you have supplies to do that postpartum home visit near the birth back to back instead of driving all the way to the office for supplies. I carried in my car a birth bag, postpartum bag, prenatal visit bag, and suitcase for me with spare birth clothes and office clothes. There has been a couple times I was too tired to drive home from a distant birth and had home visits in that area next morning and stayed in a hotel. Planning and preparing really cuts down on anxiety and “what if situations.”
Goal of this post is to get you thinking about your business style and how prepped you want to be before your visit client comes through the door. Even if your business has been going for a while, it is always a good idea to look over supplies and see what can be improved on. Cutting costs and improving processes will only increase your profits and long term success of your midwife practice.