The past 18 months has highlighted the value of technology and digital innovation particularly in terms of connecting teams working remotely, ensuring a consistent customer experience, and instant access to essential tools and services.
Technology is integral to operations at NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative (NOE CPC). Finding the most suitable platforms and channels to enable effective collaboration is key to support its partners and customers across the public procurement system.
Technology to improve the customer experience
Keith Rowley, MD of NOE CPC has recently underlined the importance of NOE CPC accelerating their use of technology to improve the customer experience; “Our vision is to deliver high quality and easily accessible procurement services to the NHS. Increasingly that means providing access to our services online, using web-based systems and the provision of self-service tools.
The past 18 months has been an exceedingly challenging period for the NHS, and Covid-19 has driven a rapid change in working practices and increased use of technology.
From an organisational perspective embracing technological solutions has been essential to ensure we’ve continued to provide a vital support service to the NHS through this very challenging period.
We are also determined that the advantages, including in many cases improved efficiencies, gained through greater use of technology will be retained and built upon in the future.
We are seeing an increased desire for our NHS customers and suppliers to engage with us online through use of technology, and we are keen to ensure our services continue to change and adapt to the changing landscape and demand.”
NOE CPC's use of technology enabled them to rapidly adapt when the pandemic hit utilising platforms they had already established, such as MS Teams, to support working efficiently internally, with customers, and other external stakeholders to run meetings, host events, webinars and share critical information with their contact base.
Changing working practices has proved so effective NOE CPC has continued to find ways to deliver dynamic content across multiple platforms including video guides, their YouTube channel, social media, and programmes of virtual events and online training.
In-house digital development
NOE CPC have invested more resource into developing their in-house digital toolkit and online systems to improve accessibility and usability for customers. Most notably: this year’s launch of the new benchmarking tool which identifies instant savings across multiple frameworks with an easy-to-use interface; a revamped online catalogue for the NOE CPC Estates Consumables and Equipment framework; further refining the dedicated online provider search function within the Minor Works and Trades DPS and improved the reporting process; developing the Request for Quote (RFQ) system for NHS Supply Chain: Hotel Services, and imminently for the NOE CPC website; a complete overhaul of the supplier Management Information Online system has eliminated some of the most common and frustrating problems for users; and installing a new support desk system offering a better platform to facilitate customer dialogue and manage enquiries.
NOE CPC have also adopted the Atamis Health Family e-Procurement system in line with the recommendations made by the Department of Health and Social Care.
A single e-commercial system, it brings the commercial activities of the health service together in one place, including business case generation and sign off, tendering, evaluation, digital contract awards and performance management, supplier management and P2P interface.
It’s currently being used by DHSC, NHS England and Improvement, the PPE cell, NHS Digital, and an increasing number of arms-length bodies and NHS Trusts.
Adoption and delivery of technology
The volume of activity and investment in technology innovation and data services at NOE CPC demonstrates the commitment and importance they place on adopting and applying technologies to best effect for customers.
Utilising technology to improve the customer experience for NOE CPC also includes delivering innovative frameworks. The dedicated NOE CPC Technology (ICT) category presents a significant selection of free to access frameworks supporting customers to meet their own requirements within the technology field including Remote Teleradiology Reporting Services, the recently launched IT Hardware and Services (LINK3) agreement – the third iteration of this hugely popular framework, and IT Enterprise Solutions. The latter is an all-in-one solution which has recently supported Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust in a successful EPR award.
NOE CPC plan to continue to invest and develop solutions to transform the services they deliver. Their early adoption and outward view to the wider public procurement landscape ensures they remain at the forefront of available technologies to meet the needs of the community they serve.