Healthcare Supply Chain Collaboration and Innovation: All Roads Lead Back to Better Patient Outcomes
More than 60 delegates from NHS Trusts, suppliers, providers and industry stakeholders gathered in Birmingham at the 2019 GHX User Forum for two days of networking and learning.
Representing all aspects of healthcare, from procurement and supply chain to technology and marketing, attendees heard from a wide variety of innovative speakers who shared practical insights on hospital procurement, industry standards and the future of the healthcare supply chain.
A place to collaborate
GHX U.K.’s Country Manager, James Minards, opened the Forum with an introduction of GHX’s key values; Inspire, Collaborate, Innovate, and Grow – which are the foundations of the annual forum. He highlighted that collaboration is the glue in these values and encouraged delegates to use the event as a place to discuss challenges, test ideas and share best practices.
“There is one thing which unites us all – the patients.” ~ James Minards, GHX
GHX’s Jackie McGuinn was the first to present and gave an update on market challenges and technology. She echoed James’ view on collaboration and how GHX has created a community of customers across the globe who work together to tackle the complex issues in healthcare.
“The U.K. has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. The NHS has delivered some transformational changes and is using the time and money saved to invest in frontline services.” ~ Jackie McGuinn, GHX
Jackie outlined some worldwide trends which are impacting the healthcare supply chain such as a growing, aging population putting a greater demand on healthcare and technological advancements such as artificial intelligence. She went on to highlight various GHX specific initiatives and product development activities; the current focus being the piloting of Requisition Manager, with the roll-out starting in Germany, followed by the U.S. and the U.K.
She concluded her presentation with a message of continuous improvement and the GHX mission to enable the delivery of high-quality care for the lowest costs possible by removing supply chain inefficiencies and leveraging data to drive better decisions and processes.
Progress and partnerships
The forum then heard from suppliers Akeso & Company (A&C); one of the 11 category towers, B Braun; a system partner in healthcare, and Medtronic; one of the world's largest medical technology, services and solutions companies. All three companies highlighted the progress they have made through partnerships and innovation.
A&C Managing Director, Chris Robson, said that the company was supplying something to every NHS Trust in the country and that he can see collaboration coming to the fore within the NHS.
“We are on track to deliver meaningful savings of £7.6m for SCCL and the NHS for year one.” ~ Chris Robson, Akeso & Co
Chris also highlighted growing innovation in the pathology and diagnostics space and said he wanted to make these advancements available to NHS customers earlier and share the results with the broader community.
Mark Dinjens from Medtronic explained how his company had established two projects focusing on GDSN compliance and PEPPOL/GS1 compliance; both created as part of the new operating model. He added that Scan4Safety requirements were working as a catalyst for full integration and that Medtronic is aiming for 80 percent touchless ordering.
“The value-based healthcare delivery model will make the whole process more efficient in the future. Let’s partner in taking healthcare further, together.” ~ Mark Dinjens, Medtronic
B Braun’s Malcolm Dobson shared three key milestones which he said were 12 years in the making: the e-procurement strategy, the Carter Report, and the adoption of Scan4Safety. After being tasked by the Department for Health and Social Care to adopt GS1 and PEPPOL early, Malcolm said that they were already 80 percent toward the goal when labelling becomes mandatory. However, he added that there were still challenges to overcome, such as how to maintain customer catalogues, gaps in data, and a lack of clarity around NHSX (new joint organisation for digital, data and technology).
The role of the patient
Delegates then heard from GS1’s Robert Flack who reflected on his first six months with the organisation and his hopes for the future of GS1.
He began by describing the current landscape and how he is beginning to see the GS1 messages of people, product and place, fundamentally changing behaviours.
He believes the NHS is improving its understanding of how to use data and the benefits thereof, saying the “penny drop moments” in NHS Boards are significant. However, questions remain around how to more broadly disseminate the data for the biggest impact.
Robert recalled the words from a recent Care Quality Commission meeting, which signalled its appreciation of the fact that using data properly can improve processes and save vital time and money.
In terms of Scan4Safety awareness, Robert says that clinical engagement has improved and that there are “clinicians knocking on doors asking when they can utilise Scan4Safety” when they realise the fundamental difference the data can make.
“So much starts with the patient wristband; the beginning of everything. Every baby born in the last 12 years has a GS1 identifier.” ~ Robert Flack, GS1
On GS1’s five-year partnership with NHS Digitalto improve standards of care, Robert says GS1 has been inundated with messages from CIOs saying “we know we need to do something about this” — another example of real improvements. Although he says simple processes, like having a GLN next to a bed space to help monitor bed availability, are not yet being utilised by every Trust.
Looking to the future, Robert said that patient confidence is a big issue and becoming more so, and that more information needs to be provided to the patient. As an example, he describes a patient being able to tell you the brand of beans they ate yesterday but not the brand of medical device they have fitted.
“The most fundamental person in the healthcare safety process is the patient.” ~ Robert Flack, GS1
He added that we will see GS1 engaging with patients in a different way in the future — more directly.
Concluding, he articulated that GS1 as an organisation, doesn’t believe they are yet near the tipping-point but their main aim is to get there, working with point-of-care providers to make people’s lives in healthcare better.
Scan4Safety in Plymouth
The next presentation focused on University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust’s Scan4Safety journey. The Trust’s Sophie Reid, Scan4Safety project manager, and Pete Sewell, head of supply chain and e-procurement, gave an overview of the project timeline, the benefits realised and future ambitions.
Sophie began working on the process in 2016 and the Trust became fully certified in 2018. She says there are common challenges among the six demonstrator sites but different approaches.
Their approach means that the Trust’s data is now accurate and rich, and ordering is automated, making the supply chain more robust.
The benefits they have seen include:
“One hundred percent of products in our neuro theatres have a barcode. In fact, if you walk into the theatre wearing a jacket with a barcode, you’ll get scanned!” ~ Pete Sewell, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust
Pete’s advice was to get high-level buy in early on. They also engaged GHX in the early stages and explained that their success was partly due to working with Chris Heaveyfrom GHX on the GTINs. Previously the processing of paper invoices took five days, and now through GHX, it takes a day, which he stated was crucial, especially if the invoice is late.
The Trust has secured further funding to support its onwards ambitions to have end-to-end traceability of medical devices and care events, to use GS1 standards and RFID to track and trace assets and staff, and to avoid never-events.
First to speak was Gordon Oates from NHS Scotland who gave a fascinating insight into the differences in the U.K. and Scottish health systems and structures and the challenges from all health boards being autonomous when a new programme is being piloted – in this case, GS1/Stock Management.
Gordon said they chose to partner with GHX on this pilot due to competitive pricing, the team’s experience implementing GS1 elsewhere, and GHX’s ability to translate this in the Scottish landscape. He added that the long-standing relationship between the two organisations meant that GHX had a thorough understanding of what the pilot was trying to achieve, so it was a quick and easy decision.
“GHX is a critical part of our procurement system integration. Our procurement departments report that GHX Inventory Manager is easy to use.” ~ Gordon Oates, NHS National Service Scotland
The pilot meant that for the first time in Scotland, a product could be traced from manufacturer to patient. Other benefits of the pilot included cost savings, releasing staff time to do clinical work and the availability of rich data to support better decision making.
Next up was Neil Hind from Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership who gave an overview of how the partnership was approaching standard systems to help deliver truly collaborative working across the Greater Manchester area.
As well as mapping each Trust’s procurement and supply chain systems with the aim of establishing a single IT procurement infrastructure, Neil explained how the whole area now has a regional wound care formulary and a GM data sharing agreement in place. He said all Trusts are engaged and participating, focused on delivering in-year savings as the main priority.
“The standard systems programme will pay for itself a few times over and free staff to concentrate on strategic procurement, not administrative tasks.” Neil Hind, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership
Last but not least, Stuart MacMillan from West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYATT) offered his experience with regional collaboration across six hospital Trusts.
Stuart gave an update on the innovation at Leeds Teaching Hospitals and highlighted the challenges of replicating what Leeds has done as a demonstrator site, across the region.
“More than 70 NHS Trusts have visited Leeds Teaching Hospitals to see Scan4Safety in action, how it is providing better patient care and making £2.3 million in ongoing savings.” ~ Stuart MacMillan, West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts
He then explained how Scan4Safety is a priority for WYATT and that clinical engagement is key to a more aligned collaborative process to improve patient safety. While inventory management and product recall are the association’s immediate focus, he announced that a pilot was starting to share catalogues across the Trusts.
Stuart’s hopes for the future include point of care data capture, big-data reporting and operational efficiencies which will see not only financial and time-saving benefits, but will also reduce clinical risk, increase workforce satisfaction and productivity, and improve patient satisfaction and safety.
Keeping the focus on collaboration
Throughout the day, the GHX team ran workshops alongside the presentations to enable delegates to see a live demo of GHX Procure. These practical demonstrations provided first-hand knowledge of the solution and illustrated the immediate benefits.
Closing the event, James Minards returned to the overarching theme of the forum: collaboration. He said that GHX’s focus on continuous innovation and solid execution is for the ultimate customer: the patient.Though behind the scenes, everything from consultation services to coding, and in collaboration with others like you in this room, is in pursuit of enabling better outcomes for patients.
“Collaboration is essential to the future of the healthcare supply chain and improvements in patient safety. Everyone in the room is testament to that, and I’d like to thank everyone for their cooperation and dedication.” ~ James Minards, GHX