The Healthcare Hub

Electrifying the NHS!

posted by: Ed Palferman
Thursday, March 19, 2015

In May 2014, the UK Department of Health published the NHS eProcurement Strategy. This comes nine months after the Department published Better Procurement, Better Value, Better Care, and which we wrote about here. The lead author, Mr Steve Graham, will be speaking at this year’s GHX Healthcare Supply Chain Summit on the NHS eProcurement Strategy and the drivers behind this policy. Many of the topics he will address are relevant to supply chain leaders in the U.S., Canada and across the globe.

The drivers behind the Strategy are twofold. One is patient safety. The archaic nature of the healthcare supply chain was highlighted by recent patient safety concerns such as the difficulties recalling PIP breast implants and similar issues in the UK recalling metal-on-metal hip implants. Two, NHS procurement has been tasked with achieving savings of £1.5 billion ($2.29 billion) over four years. Putting the ‘e’ in eProcurement is seen as a key step to realizing these savings; in other words, better use of technology.

Additionally, the Strategy mandates the use of PEPPOL and GS1 standards by NHS provider organizations as well as any organization supplying goods or services to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). PEPPOL - Pan-European Public Procurement Online – is a European Union (EU) initiative designed to facilitate public procurement by promoting transaction interoperability.  While the scope is limited to Europe, if you are a global healthcare supplier, you do need to be aware of PEPPOL.

The vision for the adoption of GS1 standards is not limited to the supply chain, but extends right across NHS hospitals. The ambition is that GS1 standards are used in patient and procedure records, finance and reporting systems and supply chain and inventory control. This will also involve the use of multiple GS1 standards, including:

  • Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs)
  • Global Location Numbers (GLNs)
  • Global Individual Asset Identifier (GIAI)
  • Global Service Relation Number (GSRN)
  • Global Document Type Identifier (GDTI)

This is a big ask for a healthcare system where even the more commonplace standards, such as GTINs and GLNs are not widely adopted. It is also worth keeping in mind that the NHS is already under great pressure and likely to be a political ‘hot potato’ in this election year.

Mr. Steve Graham, lead author of the NHS eProcurement Strategy and eProcurement Lead at the UK’s Department of Health will be speaking about the Strategy and his ambitions for public sector healthcare procurement in the UK at this year’s GHX Supply Chain Summit. Find out more about the Supply Chain Summit here.