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Improving traceability of everything moving through your hospital

Date: November 03, 2017

Category: Guest opinion piece

Author: Guest author

OmnicellIn a series of blogs from our healthcare conference sponsors, Paul O’Hanlon, Managing Director at Omnicell, looks at how technology is bringing increased efficiency and accuracy into the healthcare system

Limited visibility of hospital inventory is costly and disruptive for everyone. Poor management of stock levels or re-order trigger points means significant amounts of out-of-date stock is often thrown away, wasting thousands of pounds that could be used elsewhere. Unforeseen stock-outs can adversely impact a hospital's day-to-day activities and have a huge impact on patient care, including last minute operation cancellations and theatre delays.

Hours of valuable nursing time are wasted searching the hospital – sometimes walking between different wards – for the supplies they need rather than caring for patients. Messy storerooms and a lack of easy, clear signposting means wading through drawers and cupboards. If they do manage to find what they want, whole boxes are sometimes removed to save time. When things get rushed, nurses are less likely to return unused supplies to the store room and - as there is no way of tracking this - the cupboard is left empty and more money is wasted. On the flip side, stock is often ordered unnecessarily to provide comfort from stock-outs, which invariably leads to overstocking and wasteful spending.

Missing items like implants, equipment and standard kits cause massive frustration amongst theatre staff and delays in planned operations, whilst alternatives are located. Ad hoc inventory management with no linked patient data provides little opportunity to trace and recall implants, which can endanger patients’ lives and increase litigation risks.

A lack of visibility of costs at a patient level is costing Trusts millions of pounds. Individual patient treatment costs can vary hugely across different hospitals, departments and wards. Some hospitals are spending double what another might spend on the same operation. Without tracking these costs, hospitals have no way of working consistently without potentially compromising patient care by adopting an unscientific, unquantified approach. Therefore, the status quo continues.

Ever more stringent Government standards and regulations are placing increased pressure on Trusts to invest in software and create robust plans to better manage their supplies and the traceability of products moving through their hospitals. Often viewed as complex, Trusts are left considering numerous options to support them on this journey and these are invariably fraught with understanding complex equipment and securing significant investment.

Complex, outdated reports and time constraints make data interpretation a challenge and this can lead to frustration and a temptation to reverse to old ways of working. As the NHS gets busier and supplies get more expensive, this could mean a return to unnecessary waste, stock outs and general inefficiency.

As technology develops we have to find new ways to embrace it in order to reap the rewards of increased efficiency and accuracy. In today’s health service environment that means having accurate information at our fingertips so managers can use real-time, easily accessible information to make well informed decisions about stock, patient and procedure costings. The knock on effect of using data smartly is huge and it’s becoming ever apparent that being data and intelligence rich is helping hospitals to flip the negativities associated with poor supplies management.

Paul O'HanlonPaul O’Hanlon, Managing Director
T: 0161 4135333

About Omnicell

Omnicell are committed to bringing together a raft of supply solutions (including, patient inventory management, barcode scanners, RFID, cabinets, costing, top-up, reporting and more) into a real-time view of a hospital’s supplies position across all sites, on one device. It’s easy to use dashboard means users can see their current stats on their mobile phone, whist on the move.

Our range of solutions have been helping hospitals around the world to implement supplies and medication management plans for more than 20 years. As many NHS hospitals join us on this journey, our primary concern is making sure that the benefits of new technology don’t fail because Trusts don’t have time to review the data they have at their fingertips.

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