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Dispensary Innovation

By Ross McCauley | 01 Sep, 2015

Greetings all,

I'm part of a small global health organization based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Our organization works primarily by sending medical brigades consisting of college students or professional organizations and medical professionals to Guatemala, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. There, clinics are set up with the help of local partner organizations and on-the-ground employees that provide acute medical care and refer (and pay for) individuals to receive care for more chronic ailments.

Currently, our inventory management system is borderline nonexistent, consisting of rough counts in our warehouse prior to brigades. Medications and supplies are then sent with the brigade members in suitcases to the sites abroad. My goal is to implement an inventory management system that can give real time counts of on-hand supplies that can help to better forecast procurement schedules. In addition, a shipping method needs to be developed that, in short, doesn't involve students carrying supplies across borders.

I'm just wondering if any of you have come across similar problems or have solutions in place that address mine at this time. Excel seems like a simple/cost-effective solution, but I'm not at all opposed to exploring other software options. I hope my request has not been too vague and I am looking forward to filling in any gaps through your questions. Much thanks in advance for your correspondence.



Christina Jeffrey Replied at 12:53 PM, 1 Sep 2015

Hey Ross- We (Dimagi) do this at a very large scale and have an SMS alert system set up for stock out, inventory management, supply chain logistics... Probably too big for your use case, but if you look into mobile data collection tools (do-it-yourself options are free or close to it) and you get creative with formulas, you can likely make a form for all of your sites to fill out about their stock #s, what was used, etc. It won't be as ideal as some options, but would be easier for your on the ground/local teams to understand (a data collection form on a smartphone or a simple form on a computer screen is easier to understand than excel, and you can just export/move data to excel after)... If you're managing supply/#s in real-time, will be easier to look for subsidies and partnerships for shipping.

Hope this helps (a bit!)

Jean Galiana Replied at 1:52 PM, 1 Sep 2015

This foundation that is local to me does kind of the same work. Maybe they
can offer you some suggestions.

Fiona Theunissen Replied at 3:18 PM, 2 Sep 2015

Hi Ross,

Whilst I don't have experience with them personally, and certainly not in your context, there are a host of inventory management apps out there now that might be worth investigating.
The benefits of using an app based system in your situation would be that it can be accessed in the field on iPads or mobile phones, they're cheap and generally more user-friendly than excel spreadsheets and some can be integrated into other financial or management software if needed or desired. You may also avoid some of the pitfalls of excel spreadsheets - incorrect formulas, people overwriting formulas etc - that can render the system useless at worst or a big headache at best.

And if you're sending younger people out into the field they will be much happier with an app on a phone or tablet than a paper or computer based system.

I think it would be worth investigating.

Best regards,


Ross McCauley Replied at 2:01 PM, 8 Sep 2015

First of all, thank you very much for your assistance. You have given me some very good leads to investigate to solve this problem at hand.

Christina - would you mind contacting me via email () or via LinkedIn to discuss your solution further?

Thanks again!

This Community is Archived.

This community is no longer active as of December 2018. Thanks to those who posted here and made this information available to others visiting the site.