First In First Out

Posted by James Irvin on July 23, 2018
· Best Practices

Your study site’s supply closet can be a chaotic place. Today we'll be exploring a simple inventory management method that can reduce the chaos by ensuring you're always using the right inventory at the right time across all of your clinical trials.

Before we dive in let's take a moment to talk about the concept of inventory and what it means in the context of a clinical trial. Inventory refers to all of the things that your site needs to conduct research activities. This can include study drugs, medical devices, ancillary lab kits, specimen shippers, study materials, freezers, and diagnostic equipment.

There are some things that certain study sites use that go way beyond our concept of normal trial inventory, including:

  • Meatballs in marinara sauce for a dietary study.
  • Plush bear doll toy for a pediatric study.
  • Locking human head restraint for an oncology study.

First In First Out, also known as the FIFO method, is often used by businesses as a way to value their inventory. First In First Out is one of the best methods for managing inventory that expires, which is the case for almost all clinical trial inventory.

The FIFO inventory method always assumes that items that will be expiring the soonest will be used first. For example, if I have three identical lab kits with varying expiration dates the FIFO method dictates that the next lab kit I use will be the one that is expiring soonest.

FIFO makes a lot of sense for clinical trial inventory management because it always ensures you are using your oldest inventory first, saving the "fresher" supplies for future patient visits. There is one caveat - proper implementation of FIFO does require you to pay close attention to inventory expiration dates, but this can be easily done using lab kit management solutions like Slope or by tracking information in a spreadsheet.

James Irvin

Written by James Irvin

James Irvin is Slope's VP of Customer Success. He works with study sites around the world to build scalable and adaptable inventory management solutions.