Tim Brown outlines the three things that trusts must do now to prepare themselves for the new e-procurement strategy


The seven steps to safety

The seven steps to safety

This article was part of the eProcurement channel, in association GS1. The channel is no longer being updated.

In June we hosted a conference to provide education around the GS1 standards – what they are, where they can be applied and how they work – for trusts and other healthcare businesses. The government’s new e-procurement strategy mandated the use of the standards.

‘The adoption of GS1 standards won’t happen overnight’

The conference presentations (see video, below) revealed a clear roadmap for how to get started with the adoption plan.

The actual process of achieving full GS1 standards adoption will not happen overnight; every trust will be at a different stage of implementation already, and full compliance may be phased in over a period of a few years in some cases.

We recommend that all trusts ensure they undertake the following three steps in order to get some momentum behind meeting the requirements of the strategy.

1. Prove the business case

Every NHS trust is also a business, and implementing GS1 standards may require some investment in new systems and working practices.

For example, the Nursing Technology Fund from NHS England will make £70m available during 2014-15.

‘Trusts must stress the benefits of long term procurement cost and time savings for frontline staff’

This means that there is financial commitment involved, so the case made must not just focus on the imperative of the government mandate, but stress the benefits in terms of long term procurement cost savings, operational efficiencies, time savings for frontline staff and improved patient safety. 

Highlights from the GS1 healthcare conference in June 2014

2. Enlist a champion for e-procurement

While patient safety is of paramount importance, procurement is often not very high on the board’s agenda.

‘It is important to find a board member who can become a champion for e-procurement strategy’

However, with budgets under so much strain, the guidance provided in the e-procurement strategy offers clear long term benefits and cost savings to ease this strain.

Providing examples of early adopters of the technology and the impact it has already had for their trusts can perform a key role in securing an advocate.

3. Get started now

Every trust is at a different stage of compliance, and starting to put a plan together should reveal areas where quick gains can be made.

In most cases the obvious initial area of focus will be location identification - using global location numbers or GLNs - and patient identification - in line with NHS Information Standards Board 1077 - these provide the best practical platforms from which to build.

‘The strategy aims to support the evolution of the NHS and help it overcome long term challenges’

Achieving widespread adoption of GS1 standards throughout the NHS requires investment in the supporting systems and processes that need to be rolled out, but the intention behind the e-procurement strategy is to support the evolution of the NHS and help it overcome the multiple long term challenges it faces.

Significant momentum will need to build up in order to successfully implement the guidance set out in the e-procurement strategy, and undertaking the above three actions now will ensure trusts get off to a strong start and enable them to scale at pace.

Tim Brown marketing and insight manager at GS1