interviews

02.10.17

Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

Source: NHE Sep/Oct 17

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain.

How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved since the Department of Health’s (DH’s) eProcurement Strategy, launched back in 2014? 

Before the strategy was published, previous efforts to improve eProcurement in the NHS had been patchy due to the lack of central direction and investment. Scan4Safety has further driven its application by mandating the use of GS1 and PEPPOL standards. Many of the roadblocks we’d come up against when trying to drive change and improvement have been removed. 

What is Scan4Safety delivering? 

The six NHS demonstrator sites proving the benefits of adopting standards in healthcare are continuously sharing examples of how the programme is improving patient safety and driving operational efficiencies in hospitals and across the entire supply chain. We, as NHS Supply Chain, are seeing the potential efficiency benefits for all people and companies involved with supplying the health sector. 

You mentioned ‘roadblocks’ before. How does this initiative remove roadblocks within the supply chain? 

At the very heart of the initiative is the patient. The shift from talking about eProcurement to Scan4Safety epitomises this. This means that the change is focused absolutely in the right place and so good engagement is generated right across departmental and organisational boundaries, including with clinicians and senior management. By using global standards, everyone ‘talks’ the same language – providing transparency and having accurate, comparable data to drive evidence-based decisions. 

A great example of how that would work is when stock levels are set by the materials management team and the clinical team in partnership, and the decisions are based on reliable data. This then gives the clinicians the product availability they need as well as reducing waste, and most importantly reducing patient risk. 

What is NHS Supply Chain doing, and what will you change through the programme? 

We established our eProcurement programme firstly to ensure we are compliant with the milestones published by the Scan4Safety initiative. Secondly, we are now looking at how, by using these standards, we can drive new capability for our customers and enable compliance to the European Medical Device Regulations, which have been published this year. 

We have already delivered a lot of changes; a number of our customer and supplier-facing systems can now accommodate Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) and Global Location Number (GLNs). We have more than 120,000 GTINs in our catalogue and look to grow this as we start our Prototype Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN) work with the DH. We are off to a great start with our PEPPOL service provider, netEDI, where we have over 150 live connections to suppliers. 

You referenced materials management; how are you developing in this area? 

NHS Supply Chain provides a free materials management solution to the NHS called eDC Gold. This is an extension to the eDC solution which is used in 90% of NHS trusts to capture demand and generate orders. eDC Gold enables products to be tracked to the patient, along with inventory visibility on stock holding and expiry. The outcomes of effectively using the solution include improved patient safety and operational efficiencies. 

eDC and eDC Gold are owned by, and developed for, the NHS. All the planned future enhancements are being driven directly by NHS users. Nothing is charged for. Implementations of eDC and eDC Gold are delivered by our teams as change management projects rather than system implementations. Our very experienced teams use change management techniques to support culture, process and system change. In addition, the Personal Digital Assistants are provided free of charge, there is a staffed help desk, and the team provide ongoing support to drive efficiencies. 

eDC Gold works regardless of supply chain route, which gives the NHS teams control over all supply routes into their store. It can manage large quantities of products which can otherwise be hard to regulate. We work individually with each trust to support their unique objectives and challenges. 

There are currently 45 implementations of eDC Gold across 20 trusts. The solution is used across a wide range of product categories, such as orthopaedics, intra-ocular lenses, cardio, theatre consumables, and mesh. 

The NHS Business Services Authority  and the DH continue to invest in eDC and eDC Gold as the solutions are matured in line with the Scan4Safety initiative.

From a government perspective 

Steven Graham, Scan4Safety programme lead at the DH, on what has been achieved so far and the next steps for procurement: 

Scan4Safety is driving the adoption of international standards that are commonplace in supermarkets and other industries into healthcare. In practice, it means uniquely identifying and ‘barcoding’ everything that goes into patient care. This includes every patient, product and place in the NHS, to create a platform for the improvement of healthcare delivery. 

Right now, that amounts to a lot of boring-sounding barcoding and process change! However, in time, it will revolutionise the way that the NHS cares for patients. It will lead to greater standardisation of care, fewer avoidable harm events and improved efficiency, both within hospitals and across the entire supply chain. 

How are the demonstrator sites doing against their plan? 

They are ahead of plan. The operational and supply chain savings we hoped to see at this point in the programme have been exceeded. 

In terms of impact on patient care, there have been some encouraging case studies emerging. Some highlights include: 

  • At Salisbury NHS FT, implantable medical devices can now be accurately tracked throughout the supply chain to an individual patient
  • At Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, faulty product recalls can now be conducted in less than an hour in ophthalmology; this has come down from over eight hours prior to Scan4Safety
  • At Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS FT, a change in theatres informed by accurate data has delivered a £400,000 annualised reduction of consumables used 

What can other NHS trusts do now? 

Trusts interested in joining the Scan4Safety programme can take some initial steps to get ready, including: 

  • Appoint a board-level sponsor
  • Appoint a senior clinical sponsor
  • Speak to and visit a demonstrator site
  • Join the DH workspace 

I think the programme is gaining greater traction than similar previous initiatives because we have been able to mandate the standards for both NHS providers and suppliers by incorporating them into operational contracts. 

At the same time, we are ensuring that the standards are implemented in a common way across acute NHS trusts. Learning from the demonstrator sites is being captured in ‘How To’ guides that will be shared with other NHS trusts looking to implement these standards across their organisation. 

What’s next for Scan4Safety? 

The demonstrator sites are proving the benefits we anticipated and making the theory come to life. This puts us in a great place when it comes to providing the rest of the acute sector with the opportunity to benefit from the application of proven standards. The demonstrator sites and my team work closely together and we are all excited about helping the NHS to improve its record as one of the safest healthcare systems in the world.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To find out more about Scan4Safety, visit:

W: www.scan4safety.nhs.uk

NHS and supplier organisations can register to gain access to NHS Supply Chain’s dedicated workspace by emailing:

E: Scan4Safety@dh.gsi.gov.uk

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