Paul O’Hanlon, Managing Director for Omnicell UK & Ireland comments:
At Omnicell, we welcome the Lord Carter report and the introduction of the Adjusted Treatment Index (ATI) to drive efficiency and cost savings across the NHS healthcare system. This will ensure greater consistency of care, regardless of which Trust provides it, and ultimately transform the way services are delivered to patients.
The interim report highlighted 2012/13 expenditure on hospital medicines was a staggering £6.5bn – an 11% increase over the previous year. Lord Carter believed there were greater savings to be had by managing the demand for products through better inventory management rather than price reductions and that a target of £500m – 1bn savings on the £9bn procurement spend was realistic.
Without doubt some of this fiscal increase can be attributed to an aging population and advances in treatments. However, cost savings and efficiencies as highlighted by this report need be made to ensure a real and sustainable future for our NHS. Hospitals hold many weeks or even months of supplies and medication stock and a lack of automated systems for managing the distribution of this throughout hospitals contributes to increased costs, inefficiencies, and risk to patients. In addition, outdated manual counting, reordering and searching for drug cupboard keys consume vast amounts of valuable clinicians’ time. Most importantly, the lack of control, accountability or traceability at the point-of-use puts patients’ lives at risk due to medication errors or availability of stock.
We are pleased to see the report highlight the need for a greater use of technology such as electronic systems to automate ordering, storage and tracking of medicines and supplies. By using technology in this way, hospitals can access an accurate breakdown of treatment costs at patient level and free up clinicians’ time so it can be redirected back into face to face patient care.
Our partnership with NHS Trusts across the country has enabled us to see first-hand the results medication and supplies management technology can bring. Omnicell has successfully automated many aspects of drug and supplies management in 100 UK hospitals with the installation of automated dispensing cabinets and robotic dispensing systems.
One example is our work with Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London - a hospital Lord Carter recently visited to see for himself how changes in supplies and medication management have benefited the Trust and its patients.
The Trust initially installed over 100 Omnicell automated dispensing cabinet system across wards, theatres and the A&E department. The Trust now has over 300 Omnicell systems across 3 hospitals, which is the largest implementation of its kind in Europe.
Through this installation they identified millions of pounds of excess stock, as well as over 10% reduction in spend. In addition, the average transaction time for accessing medications and supplies has been reduced and new automated processes have released thousands of hours of clinical time which can now be spent on patient care.
Stock is secure and benefits from an automated re-ordering system, together with an interface that feeds patients names from the patient administration system right through to the cabinet. The Omnicell system is also integrated with the hospital Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (EPMA) system, further improving efficiency and patient safety
We recognise that there is a long-way to go but here at Omnicell we look forward to working with more Trusts to drive-up efficiency through innovative technological solutions. In a day and age where we use technology in nearly everything we do isn’t it time we started to embrace technology in the same way across the NHS?