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How to manage backorders and improve inventory management in a lab?

As the demand for medical testing continues to increase, medical laboratories face a common issue: backorders. Backorders in medical laboratories can be a major issue, as they can disrupt the flow of work and ultimately impact patient care. A backorder occurs when a laboratory cannot obtain a necessary item or supply in a timely manner. This can be caused by various factors, including production delays, shipping issues, or increased demand. Unfortunately, many of these factors are beyond the control of laboratory staff. One of the leading causes of backorders in medical laboratories is a lack of proper inventory management, which, if done effectively, can help labs mitigate the effects of backorders. Dealing with backorders can be challenging, as it requires balancing the need to maintain a sufficient supply of materials with the limitations of the budget and available storage space. 

Here are some strategies that laboratories can use to manage backorders effectively: 

Develop a contingency plan: It is important to have a plan in place for dealing with backorders, as they can occur at any time. This could include identifying alternative suppliers, negotiating longer lead times, or establishing a system for prioritizing orders.

Keep an accurate inventory: Accurate and up-to-date inventory records can help laboratories identify when supplies are running low and need to be reordered. This can prevent backorders from occurring in the first place. Inventory management software like Lab Symplified uses barcode scanner technology to help you keep track of your inventory in real-time.

Communicate with suppliers: If a laboratory is experiencing a backorder, it is important to communicate with the supplier to understand the root cause and determine a solution. This could include adjusting the order quantity, finding an alternative product, or negotiating a longer lead time.

Utilize forecasting tools: Forecasting tools, such as demand planning software, can help laboratories predict future demand and adjust their orders accordingly. This can help prevent overstocking and potential waste while reducing the risk of backorders.

Consider just-in-time (JIT) inventory management: JIT inventory management is a strategy that involves only ordering supplies as they are needed rather than maintaining a large inventory. This can help reduce storage costs and the risk of backorders, but it also requires strong communication and coordination with suppliers.

Resource Pooling: Sharing resources between sister laboratories can be a helpful strategy for managing backorders and improving inventory management. By pooling resources, laboratories can ensure a sufficient supply of necessary items, even if one laboratory is experiencing a shortage or high demand. 

In addition to these strategies, medical laboratories can also turn to inventory management software to help mitigate the effects of backorders. It allows laboratories to easily track and manage their inventory, including setting up alerts for low stock levels and expiration dates. It also allows for better planning, as it provides insights into past usage patterns and more accurate forecasting of future needs.


Overall, managing backorders in a medical laboratory requires a combination of planning, communication, and inventory management. By implementing these strategies, laboratories can minimize disruptions and ensure a smooth workflow.

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