Zebra Study: 84% of U.S. and UK Hospital Leaders Prioritize Digitizing Inventory Management Solutions

Findings underscore the need for hospitals to ensure real-time availability of medical assets for optimal patient care 

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. – May 13, 2024 – Zebra Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: ZBRA), a leading digital solution provider enabling businesses to intelligently connect data, assets, and people, today announced the findings of its latest hospital vision study titled, Critical Supplies, Critical Outcomes: The Quest for Excellence in Materials Management. The study confirmed most (84%) non-clinical hospital leaders believe integrating automated and digitized inventory tracking systems of anything used or administered at patients’ bedsides is a priority for their organizations.

Hospital asset inventories must be managed precisely to ensure clinicians have the essential supplies, equipment, and medications readily available to provide the best patient care. Yet materials management is an ongoing challenge for hospitals which can impede positive outcomes. A McKinsey report indicates nurses expressed the desire to reduce time spent searching for medical assets by half during shifts to increase their ability to focus on patient care.

Seven in 10 (74%) hospital leaders surveyed acknowledge procedures or surgeries canceled due to out-of-stock, low-stock, or lost supplies is a significant problem for their organizations. Additionally, over three-fourths (77%) of them agree clinical staff spend too much time searching for medical equipment, materials, or supplies when needed, and 75% say it’s a challenge to recover all recalled or expired items.

There is also a lack of faith in clinicians' reporting systems to track adverse events resulting from inventory issues. Seven in 10 (76%) hospital leaders agree their organizations need to improve systems for clinicians to report problems relating to out-of-stock, low-stock, or lost inventory, equipment, or supplies to improve patient safety. Technology and digital solutions can help reduce inventory and reporting issues by providing enhanced tracking, visibility, and forecasting capabilities.

“Hospital staff must be able to identify, track, and capture the location and status of critical resources in real time,” said Rikki Jennings, Vertical Industry Principal Lead, Zebra Technologies. “That's why we see rapid investment in locationing and automation solutions. Non-clinical hospital leaders working in new ways with technology behind the scenes can help improve the workflows of front-line clinicians and enhance the patient experience.”

Digitization of Inventory Management Helps Boost Efficiency and Patient Care

Hospital leaders have a significant impact on clinical staff and the delivery of patient care. They must ensure medical supplies, equipment, and medication are visible and accessible. Most (84%) hospital leaders acknowledge their role and responsibility in tracking and managing hospital inventory directly impacts patient safety.

A substantial nine in 10 hospital leaders agree it’s vital to track inventory in real time across categories including pharmaceuticals, consumable/medical supplies, sterile instruments, and implants. Over half of those surveyed believe real-time location systems (RTLS) and radio frequency identification (RFID) will improve inventory management. Nearly seven in 10 hospital leaders indicate they plan to deploy RFID (68%) and RTLS (69%) solutions within the next five years.

The Zebra study also confirmed that outdated or disparate inventory systems get in the way of accurately managing inventory. Four in 10 hospital leaders agree the most challenging workflows are manual cycle counting in clinical storerooms/wards, lack of real-time recording of supply use in surgical spaces, and order fulfillment/replenishment of items in central storerooms.  

Hospitals leveraging technology and digitization can strengthen hospital workflows, benefiting physicians, nurses, support staff, and patients alike. Eight in 10 hospital leaders believe real-time location tracking is essential to optimal patient care. They also agree the combined use of RFID and barcode scanners to track and manage inventory would significantly help prevent and reduce medical errors.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Adds More Inventory Visibility and Accuracy

Hospital leaders believe in the power of AI and analytics. In fact, eight in 10 say AI would improve inventory accuracy and visibility in their organizations. About seven in 10 agree predictive analytics (73%) and prescriptive analytics (65%) would also improve inventory management. AI analytics solutions can help forecast inventory needs using historical data to help make more informed and accurate decisions. Hospital leaders are expanding their implementation of AI solutions: three in 10 say they currently deploy AI, and six in 10 say they expect to deploy it over the next five years.

Nearly eight in 10 (78%) hospital leaders also say it’s a priority to use data and analytics to improve materials management. They agree using AI would advance their ability to monitor and predict demand, resulting in increased patient safety. While only 14% say they are currently using advanced analytics and demand forecasting to predict inventory needs, 82% expect to deploy it within the next one to five years.


  • Zebra Technologies released the findings of its latest hospital vision study titled, Critical Supplies, Critical Outcomes: The Quest for Excellence in Materials Management.
  • Hospital leaders recognize the criticality of managing inventory in real time and are turning to RFID, RTLS, and AI analytics solutions to improve inventory tracking, visibility, accuracy, and ultimately, patient care.
  • Zebra’s study revealed a link between hospital leaders’ materials management and clinicians’ efficiency, productivity, and ability to provide the best patient care.  



Zebra commissioned Azure Knowledge Corporation to conduct an online survey among 280 non-clinical decision-makers in large hospitals (1,000+ beds) in the United States and the United Kingdom. These respondents are responsible for overseeing one or more of the following inventory categories: medical devices, durable medical equipment, implants, consumables, medical supplies pharmaceuticals, or sterile instruments.


Zebra (NASDAQ: ZBRA) helps organizations monitor, anticipate, and accelerate workflows by empowering their frontline and ensuring that everyone and everything is visible, connected and fully optimized. Our award-winning portfolio spans software to innovations in robotics, machine vision, automation and digital decisioning, all backed by a +50-year legacy in scanning, track-and-trace and mobile computing solutions. With an ecosystem of 10,000 partners across more than 100 countries, Zebra’s customers include over 80% of the Fortune 500. Newsweek recently recognized Zebra as one of America’s Most Loved Workplaces and Greatest Workplaces for Diversity, and we are on Fast Company’s list of the Best Workplaces for Innovators. Learn more at www.zebra.com or sign up for news alerts. Follow Zebra’s Your Edge blog, LinkedIn, X and Facebook, and check out our Story Hub: Zebra Perspectives.

Media Contact:
Michael Gilhooly
Zebra Technologies

Industry Analyst Contact:
Kasia Fahmy
Zebra Technologies

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