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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Better Procurement, Better Value, Better Care

posted by: Ed Palferman

The UK’s Department of Health published its much-anticipated Procurement Strategy this week and with it a Procurement Development Programme for the NHS. Better Procurement, Better Value, Better Care presents four key initiatives:

  1. A series of interventions to deliver immediate efficiency and productivity gains;
  2. actions to improve data, information and transparency; 
  3. an initiative to fundamentally re-think clinical engagement in the procurement of high-value medical devices and the subsequent relationship with the device industry, initially focusing on orthopaedic implants by improving outcomes at reduced cost through clinical procurement review partnerships 
  4. creation of a new national ‘enabling function’ to support leadership and build better capability throughout the system, but primarily focused on trusts capability and how they work with procurement partners.

These are welcome and will push procurement further into the spotlight. As Dr Dan Poulter MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, writes in the foreword to the strategy, “For too long, there has been a failure to understand the nature and scope of the opportunity procurement presents.”

GHX welcomes the continued push towards adoption of global product data standards, in this instance GS1, which are expected to be among the codes used by manufacturers to comply with unique device identification regulation in the US, the European Union and elsewhere around the world. As GHX CEO Bruce Johnson noted in a recent article on Best Practices for Streamlining Hospital Supply Chain Management, product data standards in the form of unique device identifiers will help healthcare organizations worldwide better understand the role products play in delivering greater value and higher quality outcomes. UDIs make it easier to electronically (and in turn, more accurately and easily) capture data on specific products used at the point of care. This, in turn, helps providers determine total costs per procedure, increase billing accuracy and improve inventory management.

Crucially, Better Procurement, Better Value, Better Care promises the publication of an e-procurement strategy in September 2013, and central investment “enabling Product Information Management and Messaging technologies” across the NHS. This is good news for the industry and will enable healthcare to catch up with other industries that continually reap the benefits of e-commerce.