How Barcoding is Boosting Efficiency and Safety in the NHS

Genesis Automation explores five ways in which inventory management is delivering big wins for NHS Trusts

In 2014, The Department of Health announced its £12m Scan4Safety initiative to test how barcoding can help acute NHS Trusts track and trace medical supplies, from the point of receipt to the patient. This pioneering programme is designed to improve patient safety, increase clinical productivity and drive operational efficiency. Originally launched in six pilot sites – Royal Cornwall, Salisbury, Plymouth, Leeds and Derby, North Tees and Hartlepool – it was hoped that Scan4Safety could deliver savings of £800 million over seven years.A year after tests began, that estimation was increased to £1 billion.

As a company selected to help three of the six pilot sites, Genesis Automation is at the centre of this transformation. Our market -leading solutions are helping to drive a fundamental change in how Trusts take control of their supply chain in order to improve safety, compliance, cost audits and traceability. We are now working with 23 NHS sites which are now seeing real and measurable benefits.

What are those benefits? Here are just five areas where real advantages are already being realised, with potential to be replicated across the NHS.

1.   Tackling waste

Saving money by reducing waste is probably the biggest reason the NHS wants to overhaul supply chain management. The Carter Review in 2016 estimated that the NHS wastes £1bn on procurement. A more efficient approach to buying drugs – including cutting back on wasted stock – could save another £1bn, according to the review. At Aintree University Hospital NHS Trust which began working with Genesis in September, the technology enabled a 38% reduction in stock on shelf. Cutting waste like this equates to cost savings of £90,000, says the Trust. Another Genesis customer, Doncaster & Bassetlaw NHS Trust, saved £700,000 on Loan Kits over 12 months. Across the six demonstrator sites, reduction in wastage and obsolescence has already saved nearly £500,000.

2.   Delivering accurate patient-level costing

If hospitals don’t track items being used on individual patients during their stay, how can they calculate a total cost of treating that patient? The demand for this level of cost transparency has pushed patient-level costing high up the agenda. Point of care barcoding technology has the potential to scan all aspects of patient care including surgical equipment, medicines, linen and food from the moment the patient enters the hospital to when they leave, enabling accurate patient and procedure-level costing.

3.   Cutting variation in care

If Trusts can clearly see inventory flowing through t he system , with insight into which patient s are receiving which procedures, drugs or implants (for example) it’s possible to iron out disparities in care around the NHS. Variation in care is one of the biggest cost inefficiencies in the NHS – also with major implications for patient safety.

4.   Boosting safety and compliance

Safety and compliance is another area where major gains can be made. As the PIP breast implant scandal of 2012 showed, an inability to trace patients who have received faulty implants can have dangerous consequences. Barcode scanning – of the supplies and the patient – means everything can be tracked and traced if a recall is necessary.

5.   Automating labour-intensive tasks

And then there are savings t hat can be gained by freeing clinical staff from manual tasks that can be automated. For example, an estimated 4,000 nursing hours are spent each year on manual supply chain duties – such as logging stock. Automating this process can deliver those hours back in to hands-on patient care. There are many more advantages and savings to be discovered by using our pioneering supplies management, traceability and analytics solutions. By connecting vital healthcare data throughout the workflow process, we give Trusts accurate information in real-time for better decision making.

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