Skip to content

Reflections on the journey: inventory management and costing in healthcare

Date: November 06, 2017

Category: Guest opinion piece

Author: Guest author

IngenicaIn a series of blogs from our healthcare conference sponsors, Nicola Hall, Managing Director at Ingenica Solutions, the company behind the first GS1 certified inventory management solution in the UK healthcare market, explores how technology solutions are increasing efficiencies, saving clinical time and improving patient safety in line with the Scan4Safety objectives

As we come into the last quarter of 2017 and to the annual GS1 UK Healthcare conference, I always find it interesting to stop and see how far we have come, firstly as our organisation and "we" as the NHS.

My initial experience goes way back to when I worked for a supplier to the NHS. Forecasting our inventory and manufacturing load was difficult at best, we had little visibility of what could be sometime erratic demand from our main customer, the NHS. At the time I worked for a relatively small company in the cardiac field. In my career I have seen the issues from both sides of the fence. One of my former bosses told me working with the NHS is like marmite, you either love it or you’ll hate it. I’m pleased to say I loved it, and 30 plus years later I am still immensely invested in the NHS, and the people who work in it, and with it.

My personal journey, in working to create change in the NHS at the sharp end, started in 2008. I initially started working with a trust’s pathology department looking at how inventory was replenished, and what improvements could be made. I refer to this period as “Marvan and the body parts phase”, simply because I spent a lot of time with a guy called Marvan who collected samples for analysis. The opportunity of how improvements could be made across the NHS became very apparent in this year, but also the very specific challenges of effecting change and specifically change through technology were also very apparent.

All the PCs in the department were running windows 2000 and to utilise technology we would have to upgrade all the main PCs. I learnt a lot in that time, and worked with some great people. We made improvements through scheduling of staff, organisation of stores, processes, and understanding habits and behaviours that had been built up over time, specifically whether they were required or relevant today. Ultimately, we could not make all the improvements we wanted to, simply because the age of the technology infrastructure inhibited us from running any software on more than one standalone PC. Anything more would have to wait until the ICT programme caught up with scheduled upgrades.

Today, I see that the GS1 and Scan4safety programme is really starting to gain traction through the main demonstrator sites, and that already trusts are reporting significant savings. As an orgainsiation we are privileged to be working with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust team on its GS1 and Scan4Safety journey. The Trust will utilise the full range of available data capture solutions, including the Ingenica clinical mobility solution and RFID technology to really increase the efficiency of existing materials management processes, saving clinical time and improving patient safety in line with the Scan4Safety objectives.

The project is unique in its planned integration with RFID technology, and really aims to show how best of breed data capture and technology can work in healthcare to best advantage.

We are also privileged to be working with other early adopters and forward thinking trusts that have already started making significant improvements; cutting costs, reducing wastage, and improving patient safety.

It has been and continues to be a pleasure and privilege to work with individuals who have really shown true grit and determination in making changes in their organisations, rolling up their sleeves gaining real savings for their organisations; showing what can be done and how much can be saved.

Nicola HallNicola Hall, Managing Director
T: 08450 660100

About Ingenica solutions

A proven track record in delivering focused IT solutions in the areas of procurement, supply chain and inventory management, bringing significant benefits to the NHS and the healthcare environment.

For more information please visit:

Healthcare conference

GS1 UK Healthcare Conference 2017

Bringing senior NHS and Department of Health leaders together to drive improvements in patient safety, clinical effectiveness and operational efficiency in the NHS in England