Q: How should we control our consumables, such as bandage and suture materials and other hospital supplies that we use but
seldom charge for?
"Great question!" says Mark Opperman, CVPM, a practice management consultant and owner of VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colo. One
solution, he says, is the red flag inventory control system. Here's how it works: You'll label a red flag with the product's
name and place the flag at the re-order point of the item you're trying to control. When you hit the red flag, you'll remove
it and place it in a box or on a hook.
"Once a week the inventory manager gathers the flags, which indicate what you need to order," Opperman says. When you receive
items from the vendor, write the date, amount purchased, and amount paid on the back of the flag. Then reattach the flag to
the new product at the re-order point. "This approach helps you to control your inventory and tells you the shelf life of
the product and whether there's been a price increase," he says.