Collaboration Driving Greater Efficiency

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As Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”

Collaboration and strategic partnerships are fundamental to improving business outcomes, and healthcare is no different. Over the past 12 months, we’ve created, and continue to create, a number of key partnerships and collaborations that have resulted in significant value for our customers.

Working together enables colleagues and businesses to share knowledge, work more efficiently and effectively. Each member of the collaboration is like another resource or tool that the partnership can leverage to make better and smarter decisions. In addition, it promotes healthy employee relationships. Healthy employee relationships lead to better team performance and overall productivity. In addition, it helps with problem solving, spurs innovation and connects teams to the bigger picture, something referred to later as a common north star.

And best of all, we’ve now seen we don’t need to be tied to a desk to be productive. Many of us are actually more effective working from home (at AdviseInc we’ve been home workers since inception). With technologies such as Slack, Zoom, Teams and other cloud-based software – home working can be highly productive and collaboration made easier as boundaries of old no longer exist.

Having time to think

Last summer gave our team a rare opportunity to take stock. We wanted to build on the success of Price Benchmarking (PPIB) and utilise the expertise we’ve developed within the team to provide more insights that support local and regional teams to deliver greater value and efficiency.

The first step was to stop and listen. Understanding the challenges our customers face each day was critical for us to design and implement solutions to reduce/remove their pain.

A recurring theme was the need for a service and not just a tool. One procurement manager said “giving us a login to a tool doesn’t result in savings. Our teams are stretched already, and many see logging into these spend tools as another to-do”. We know from first-hand experience that some teams logged-in because they felt it helped their league table position, also known as the law of unintended consequences. This made us realise that no matter how great we felt our tools are, someone to help guide and serve the insight in a way that makes sense is critical. It needs to be ‘delivered with’, not ‘done to’, and partnerships was where we saw the greatest value being delivered.

Smart Collaboration

Our first partnership was formed by listening to some of the challenges faced by SmartTogether, a regional procurement shared service led by David Lawson, Chief Procurement Officer. The shared service is responsible for procurement and supply chain management for Guy’s and St Thomas’, Lewisham and Greenwich, Dartford and Gravesham, Great Ormond Street and South London Maudsley Mental NHS Trusts.

SmartTogether selected AdviseInc to be their analytics partner last autumn. Whether it’s supporting ad-hoc analysis, helping clinical service managers understand their product mix or enabling Category Tower delivery through advanced analytics, we’re there to support. No question is ever the same, but our expert team can provide answers in hours – with the insight at our fingertips in a way that’s unique to us. In the first couple of months, we’d delivered efficiencies that covered the cost of the service. In addition, we’re now creating new solutions like our Catalogue Management Service, driven by our Master Product Data.  Our solutions enable us to easily review catalogues, identify pricing issues, add missing pieces of information (like GTINS) and normalise the key attributes to ensure all shared service members are working from the same source data.

David Lawson commented: “To deliver our CIP programme we need the very best analytics partner.

AdviseInc offers a unique combination of intuitive tools to analyse data and flag opportunities, combined with deep market knowledge and insight. In the first few months of our service, they’d identified savings many multiples of their fee. They’re also on hand whenever we need to provide additional close support on areas such as data quality, benchmarking managed service contracts, and saving validation.

 In addition, the analytics they’ve developed for Category Towers provides a level of insight we’ve not seen anywhere before and it’s delivered quickly – giving us confidence in the numbers presented to us. It’s enabled significant savings for our member trusts across whole ranges of products.”

Turbocharging Towers

Another key partnership is with Category Tower providers. It’s in the interest of the healthcare system to get the best value from the Tower programme, and by working with Tower providers we are providing a number of them with the most detailed and accurate insights available.

Cited as “some of the best analytics we’ve ever seen” at a Shelford meeting, the data supports both procurement and clinical conversations, providing detailed analysis of key areas like brand usage and levels of technology used. The data facilitates the modelling of different pricing scenarios to ensure delivery of the best available pricing-product mix for customers. Insight is delivered through our analytics in seconds, enabling account managers to have more productive conversations with hospitals and not waste effort challenging the validity of the data. Accuracy is critical to gaining customer trust.

The savings at SmartTogether have been significant. Bringing experts from national, regional and local procurement and clinical teams together, partnered with detailed/accurate insights from AdviseInc, the partners were able to drive benefits far greater than any party alone.

A Common North Star

And then Covid19 hit. In the middle of March, we saw demand for our tools fall as teams tackled a new problem in PPE. This presented our team with an opportunity to collaborate once more, utilising our skills and knowledge to support our public services. Through conversations with hospitals, we quickly realised that tracking and forecasting PPE was becoming a challenge and trust boards were losing confidence. Excel worksheets were being emailed back and forth in hospitals, and Inventory Systems designed for BAU were being circumvented as Emergency PPE storerooms were hastily established.

So, what could we do to help? Working with a trust in the Midlands, we developed a solution that pivoted our business overnight. We designed and created an easy to use data capture web-based front end developed with clinical procurement input and near real-time analytics that provided full visibility of orders, deliveries, stock levels and forecasts. In an afternoon, we’d created v1 of StockWatch and users were getting value that evening.  After mentioning the work on Twitter, we were inundated the next morning and our team and partners worked 16-hour days, 7 days a week for the first couple of months to support as many services as we could.

To deliver StockWatch, we partnered with Steven Hamblin and his team – a group of healthcare / supply chain data scientists. Within a few days, they’d delivered AI-led PPE forecasts based on aggregated clinical, epidemiology and organisational capacity data. It meant we could forecast ICU usage of PPE for the next 18 days per hospital. By 23rd March, StockWatch was live, at a time when many teams were only just realising they had a problem.

We provided StockWatch at no cost for the first wave to help as many people as we could. Our free support runs till the end of August. This was only possible with the help and collaboration of some fantastic partners. Steven’s team provided their support for free, Qlik provided free licenses and our team willingly worked all hours to support end users with onboarding, training and provided a 7 day week support desk for queries.

StockWatch is live in over 200 public service organisations, including Social Care, Primary Care and Blue Light services, and now feeds many daily Gold Command situational reports. We were also proud to be acknowledged for our work as winners of HealthTech News (HTN) “Outstanding Supplier Contribution” 2020.

Neil Hind, GM Procurement Programme Director, NHS in Greater Manchester commented, “AdviseInc’s PPE Tracker, StockWatch, has been a key enabler in understanding & tracking PPE across all of our public services in Greater Manchester. In a matter of days, we went from spreadsheets and inconsistent data to a clean, single source of the truth that is updated in near real-time. The numbers are now a core part of our daily meetings and enables the system to clearly understand daily stock levels of PPE across the region and better forecast demand.”

Getting Back to BAU

As hospitals begin bringing services back on-line, it’s critical supply chains and skills are reviewed to ensure a potential (possibly larger) second wave of Covid19 can be managed and lessons from the first wave learned.

Earlier this year we announced a partnership with Jackie Pomroy Consultancy and R2 Consulting (with Rob Drag). Two active supporters of HCSA, with in-depth knowledge of healthcare supply chain, who together share our passion for healthcare improvement.

We recognised that our organisations have a unique set of skills, a wealth of knowledge and experience, plus the capability to deliver the best outcomes for healthcare and the supply market in data and supply chain. Together we now support buyers and suppliers across the country with supply chain improvement and insight, plus identifying gaps in capacity and capability and supporting organisations to bridge the gap.

More to Come

At AdviseInc, it’s clear. Collaborating with others delivers more value for customers than working in isolation. We’ve empowered local and regional NHS leadership to make the right decisions at the right time and enabled a number of Category Towers to deliver more benefit through accurate, timely access to insight. None of this would be possible without close collaboration and partnerships.

And we’re not ending there. We’re working with other partners, both in the UK and overseas, to deliver increased value to our healthcare customers. We’re working on new collaborations that will enable even more data and insight to be brought together and placed at the fingertips of users. All wrapped up in our award-winning customer service. Plus, our partnership with HCSA will develop as we continue on our mission to enable more healthcare professionals to #MakeSense of spend data.

Want to collaborate? Or, simply need help. Contact the team at