As the National Health Service approaches its 70th birthday in July, we should pause to acknowledge the institution’s remarkable service, and of course that of its staff, with great appreciation for the value that the NHS brings to our daily lives. However, as we consider its extraordinary history and past achievements, we must equally look forwards to further possibilities and improvements in the future.
In February of this year, President Trump announced that the NHS was ‘going broke and not working.’ Naturally, this was met with considerable backlash in the UK and with the NHS ranked as the world’s best healthcare system in as recently as 2017, many were right to question the validity of this statement.
However, this does not mean that we British are blind to the institution’s challenges. Because although a hard pill to swallow, we must confess that in the face of an ageing population, rising costs, funding issues, understaffing problems and an increase in population size, the NHS remains an ageing, somewhat inflexible body. It is a body that would undoubtedly benefit from an invigorating, rejuvenating tonic. As, perhaps, might the other septuagenarian in question.
The elixir of youth
At Virtualstock, we believe that this elixir is held within a digital flask. Because, as other sectors quickly adopt tomorrow’s technologies, it is true that healthcare remains a more stagnant industry in terms of operational innovation and productivity.
The result of this comparative digital inertia, is that the NHS operates with significantly less speed and fluidity than it could or should, held back by complex legacy systems, cultural boundaries or concerns of digitisation costs. And it is ultimately this lower efficiency rate of trusts, which signifies that less time is dedicated to that which matters most: patient care. Indeed, research conducted by the NHS Confederation indicates that over one third of all work undertaken by hospital staff is not directly related to patient care.
Of course, we are not alone in identifying this issue; trusts are aware of the pressures of digitisation with Lord Carter’s efficiency targets looming in October. That which is perhaps less obvious, however, is how best to realise the targets quickly, easily, and economically. As with many things, the difficulty lies in how to get there.
Reimagining the supply chain
Thankfully, Virtualstock’s formula, The Edge4Health is facilitating the actualisation of these targets, by helping trusts drive savings, increase efficiency, and heighten compliance through the re-imagination of the supply chain.
Our solution, delivered in partnership with NHS Shared Business Service, is an online Catalogue Management and Procure to Pay solution, which connects buyers and suppliers on a single platform. It provides total visibility and control of data combined with real-time reporting of the entire supply chain.
The result is a fully streamlined eProcurement process that connects the disparate systems within an organisation, while connecting to any legacy system and any number of suppliers. And within the hospital itself, the user is met with an intuitive, digital experience, that is familiar for an online shopper and inspired by retail best practice.
By renovating their procurement methods, our mission is to give back time to NHS staff for patient care, while ensuring a successful, total cost management programme supported by a robust and compliant infrastructure.
Where there are buyers, there are sellers
Of course, it’s not just trusts which are under pressure to drive efficiencies and revaluate their eProcurement processes; this will also become a natural priority for those who are looking to sell their products to them.
The Edge4Health is fully committed to helping suppliers deliver the ‘perfect order’, while protecting their relationships with trusts and enabling the expansion of both their product range and reach. With just one connection, suppliers can upload their entire range onto The Edge4Health with full product visibility and connection to all healthcare providers on the platform. The system also automates numerous labour-intensive processes, such as product induction, price management, and order processing, resulting in more efficient ways of working.
The Edge4Health’s Procure to Pay functionality also facilitates fast payment from trusts to their suppliers as soon as an invoice is issued due to real-time data exchange – meaning less time chasing bills!
So, as the 5 July creeps closer, we look forward to celebrating the NHS’s 70th birthday, with little doubt that the institution is already taking the necessary steps to start putting digital first, both in terms of the supply chain and other processes.
Because, although it’s getting older, we are certain that by addressing the NHS’s digital infrastructure, there is significant opportunity for transformation and revival.