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Mind the gap

Date: June 05, 2019


It is challenging for NHS organisations to keep up with the number of programmes, policies and strategies in place to drive transformation across the sector. 

How do we close the gap in understanding and simplifying what these programmes mean to individuals across healthcare?

As we move further into 2019, it strikes me just how complicated the world we are operating in has become.

I have found myself using all the buzz words, describing the difference between GS1 and Scan4Safety, the model hospital, sustainability and transformation partnerships, the future operating model, NHS Supply Chain, the impacts on patient safety, patient-level costing, patient pathway, Global Digital Exemplars, e-prescribing, track and trace, RFID, interoperability, NHSX , Matt Hancock, and Brexit planning.

When one is immersed in this market, it all makes sense – but it might not for the stakeholders that we need to convince to pick up the baton to make a change?

Essentially, a common data standard underpins all these programmes, and is the baseline for achieving what we need to achieve in the healthcare space.

Without systems that can integrate, or without clear unique identification of products, locations, suppliers and caregivers, we cannot move forward on these programmes.

These are all large change management programs that are allowing us to use technology to create information and efficiencies, but the extent of the programmes should not be misunderstood.

I was recently at a trust that has been implementing an inventory management system, and felt that it had completed the requirements of GS1. I pointed out that whilst inventory management is a major step forward in the programme, it is far from the end of the road.

In some trusts, there still seems to be a lack of commitment – we need to demystify what these programs are and what they really mean for everyone in the hospital, because all staff at every level need to understand these programmes, what they are intended to achieve and why we need to achieve them.

We are certainly seeing some results out of the demonstrator sites, and heard more great evidence at the recent conference.

I suppose, to a degree, I have been surprised that we have not heard more in the interim. Patient safety is paramount, but the programme also promised savings. It would be good to understand the progress on efficiencies at trusts as both were desired outcomes for the programme.

Given the landscape outlined above, for anyone new to the party, how do we describe it? And to use a medical analogy, where is the best first incision? What is the path to become the model hospital?

The Model Hospital concept followed on from the procurement strategy and sets out that small percentage changes in the operational efficiency of NHS trusts create significant savings when looked at across the whole of the NHS. Within the report several areas were identified, including:

✔Optimising clinical resources

✔Optimising non-clinical resources

✔Quality and efficiency across the patient pathway

✔Creating the model hospital

We have become very familiar with some aspects of this report that we encounter when working with NHS teams that are now in place – the need for procurement to report key metrics, the focus on the use of technology, and the sharing of resources as the organisation of STPs start to gain pace.

The question is: where do we start? What is the route map to get to the desired position? Of course, I would say that we need to start at inventory management, as it is a foundational layer that enables other layers to be built in on top.

Making change happen in an environment in a state of constant flux is difficult. Closing the gap in understanding and simplifying what these programmes mean to individuals across healthcare will certainly help the NHS reach the target outcomes.

Let’s begin by asking what’s in it for me?

About the author

Profile pic of Nicole Hall

Nicola Hall is founder and chief operating officer at Ingenica Solutions. An entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience in the healthcare, medical devices industry and IT, Nicola has worked both in a number of global IT companies, and small start-ups bringing her perspective from both types of organisation. Nicola is an extremely focused, exceptional manager, with a keen understanding of technology and vision.

She has prior hands on experience of the end-to-end process for successful IT projects. Nicola is a well-known face in the sector and has been closely involved with inventory management in the healthcare industry for many years. Such experience has been brought together here to create a leading inventory management solutions provider, combined with a dedicated team.

About Ingenica Solutions 

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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: www.ingenicasolutions.co.uk