Veterinarian Dilemma: Is a Kirby Lester pill counter a cost or investment?

Small business owners know the age-old question about capital equipment purchases: Is this a hit to my budget and profit, or an investment in my business?

Renee Brayton, co-owner of Woodbine Animal Clinic (Pace, FL), is different than many of her colleagues who manage veterinary clinics. “As a group, I see we’re hesitant to spend money even when something new will clearly have a long-term benefit,” Brayton says. “It’s not being cheap. It’s being too cautious.”

This sentiment came up strongly during a talk about her mid-sized small animal and exotic pet clinic in the Pensacola area. In 2018 she purchased a Kirby Lester KL1 tablet counter. “Our inventory is now perfect. We spend a fourth of the time that we used to. We don’t have shortages on our shelves. Patient prescriptions are filled completely. I didn’t see it that this little machine cost me money; I see it that the Kirby paid for itself.

“Inventory is a big nightmare for a veterinary practice manager. Why not solve it by investing in the tool that does the job?”

Counting by 5’s expensive

Before using an automated pill counter, the Woodbine clinic staff was counting the old-fashioned way, by 5’s with a plastic tray and spatula. By Brayton’s estimate, this basic task alone cost $90 to $120 per week in labor. Plus, to hand-count is to err, especially with large stock bottles. “In my previous life, I was a computer programmer – keystrokes are money. Same thing with counting in a pharmacy. Garbage in, garbage out,” she says. “Counting was tedious so we weren’t doing inventory frequently enough. To do a full pharmacy count, we would have to shut down the clinic and devote several staff members.”

The famous Kirby Lester counter has been almost omnipresent for 50 years in human pharmacy settings. Yet many veterinary practices choose to hand-count those same controlled and expensive medications. “I’m a member of several business and veterinary Facebook groups, and inventory counting comes up a lot. I always give the same advice: invest in a Kirby counter, it’s been great for us.”

Additional Veterinary Inventory Resources

Click for a helpful blog from Covetrus about the importance of inventory accuracy in veterinary clinics.  According to Covetrus, a vet clinic’s medication inventory can consume between 12 to 15% of the overall practice income. Unless inventory is managed appropriately, the practice stands to lose.

Click for more narcotics inventory solutions from Capsa Healthcare. Most veterinary practices place false confidence in these methods:

  • Locked narcotics closet
  • Gun safe
  • Paper C-II log book
  • Hand-counted physical inventory

None of these methods adequately protect the facility’s most sensitive stock. Minimize opportunities for controlled substance diversion and inventory discrepancies, and make technology from Capsa Healthcare an essential component in your medication management strategy. Explore how Capsa’s NexsysADC 4T and Kirby Lester KL1 inventory counting device can be the missing tools to make your veterinary hospital defensible against potential employee theft and DEA audits.