At Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, a trust-wide review of supply chain processes, practices & systems, identified that improved inventory management was required to support the trust’s aims for a more productive, efficient and safe environment.

Nicola Hall, managing director at Ingenica Solutions, the company behind the first GS1 certified inventory management solution in the UK healthcare market, explains the technology behind scanning supplies at Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

She says: “At the time no reliable electronic stock or inventory management system existed, and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust wanted to introduce an electronic system that could record usage, track and trace products, and automatically replenish inventory.

“Furthermore, several challenges required minimisation.  Inaccurate data, excessive inventory (often duplicated in multiple storage locations) and no trust wide stock visibility impaired the ability to improve operational supply chain efficiency and deliver savings.  Also, the trust wanted to minimise the involvement of clinical teams in the process, so we want them more involved in forecasting and product quality.”

Monika Nott, project lead at the trust, and participant member of the Southern GS1 and Scan4Safety adoption group, explains: “Stock was replenished on a regular but manual basis, using various methods including top up from the procurement team materials management service, requisitioning of supplies from all clinical departments and topping up consignment stocks.  This led to overstocking.”

The trust implemented Ingenica’s 360/Atticus for the management of stock and replenishment.  Monika continues: “We were Ingenica’s first ‘out of the box’ model implementation; our staff has been trained and There is has the experience from our pilot phase which means we only call Ingenica for support as and when required.  This has been a great option for us as it reduces the total cost of implementation.”

Covering 12 theatres across four locations

Ingenica’s 360/Atticus has so far been implemented in 12 theatres across four locations; head and neck theatres, orthopedic theatres and general theatres, and day surgery with ITU and HTU planned in 2018 completing phase one.Benefits around efficiencies and costs savings have already been captured and will continue to gain momentum as more departments and wards come on board.  Using Ingenica’s 360/Atticus, Taunton and Somerset has been able to transform process, improve data, and secure much greater control over purchasing and inventory.

It has also been possible to give time back to clinical activity.  Head and neck theatre has seen a 84 per cent reduction in the time clinicians spend involved in stock ordering and replenishment. There has also been a 12.5 per cent reduction in the financial balance sheet and stock holding.

Improved data capture, recording, and management information has led to many benefits.  For instance, it has enabled the track and trace of items to patients.  It also helps eliminate stock obsolescence and minimise wastage, has reduced the level of storage space used, improved stock control and visibility, and ultimately improved patient safety.

As part of the implementation, the trust uses the Zebra MC18 mobility device to enable clinicians to scan products (barcodes and data matrix identifiers) and enable inventory consumption, to the patient, in real-time.  It’s a light, simple-to-use, handheld device that reads (scans) multiple barcode formats and adjusts product levels in the inventory management solution.

Monika explains, “What’s particularly special about the Zebra MC18 is that it allows clinicians to undertake several activities that previously could not be achieved.  Now when clinicians remove an item by scanning a barcode, stock is automatically reduced in a specified location.  The same applies when an item is returned.”

There is added functionality of being able to associate items to a patient, case, surgical team, perioperative team, or procedure.

Why use Zebra?  

The reason Ingenica uses Zebra is because it is reliable, robust and in our opinion has the best scanning technology in the marketplace, and our partnership with Zebra Technologies continues to grow as we work on solutions both for today and tomorrow within in the NHS.

Ingenica Solutions is an accredited partner of GS1 and was the first GS1 certified solution for inventory management in the UK healthcare sector and the offer that we make to other trusts is that we can replicate the success at Taunton in any trust across the UK.