Connected data: How it powers faster and smarter procurement in healthcare

11 September 2023 by Mat Oram

There’s no denying the immense power of data, yet its full potential often remains untapped within organisations. The reasons for this are varied; many lack the necessary data literacy, strategic planning, and effective strategies to utilise it properly. But perhaps the most crucial factor contributing to this challenge is the absence of connected data.

Joined up data is the key>to faster and more accurate decision making. By integrating data from various sources organisations can gain a more complete view of their operations and make a more informed choice about what to do next.

However, in many organisations this valuable data is often scattered across different systems, making it difficult to access and almost impossible to analyse properly.

The potential for connected procurement data in healthcare

NHS procurement teams are no different.

Connected data presents a huge opportunity for procurement teams to utilise the full potential of its often scarce resources. This involves using technology to collect, validate and share data across different systems and departments, enabling better decision-making and operational efficiency. This means NHS trusts don’t end up paying more than necessary for goods and services. It also allows teams to align resources and processes more closely, as well as providing a chance to share best practice at a regional level.

By connecting data from suppliers, inventory systems, financial systems and other sources, organisations can gain a holistic view of procurement activities. This allows near real-time visibility of supplier information such as product catalogues, pricing and contract details, which helps in effectively managing supplier relationships and comparing offerings to make informed decisions. It can be used to identify trends, optimise supplier relationships, reduce costs and improve overall procurement performance.

Connected data systems enable end-to-end traceability of medical supplies, ensuring safety and quality. This helps procurement teams assess and mitigate risks associated with suppliers, products and regulatory compliance, including tracking the origin, manufacturing processes and storage conditions to prevent counterfeit or substandard items. Supplier certifications, product recalls and regulatory changes can also be monitored to meet quality and safety standards.

Data also provides the opportunity for continuous learning and improvement too, which contributes to more effective and sustainable social impact over time. By collecting data and analysing the results, organisations can understand what is working and what needs improvement. This feedback loop helps organisations refine their strategies, approaches and interventions.

Harnessing the power of connected data

As is the case with all good procurement analytics, clear and reliable data is essential.

We’ve come a long way in sharing data but there are still opportunities to make further improvements. We need to make sure we examine data not in isolation but in the context of better quality and improved patient care as well as greater value for money.

With the focus on delivering more for less post pandemic, and with NHS England identifying procurement as one of the key>routes to meeting its net-zero targets and further incorporating social value into the health service, it’s never been more important to connect data. By collecting and sharing data on its activities and impact, organisations can demonstrate how resources are being used, the effectiveness of any interventions, and whether they are making a positive difference.

Transforming healthcare procurement

In an ideal world it would be commonplace to integrate data from various sources such as electronic health records, patient records, and inventory management systems, which would allow healthcare procurement to better analyse trends and forecast future demand for medical supplies and equipment.

Given the limited resources and digital expertise within the NHS currently, more NHS organisations will seek new ways to find cost-saving opportunities. To achieve this, and ensure optimal use of public funds, we’ll need to shift from merely reducing product unit price to exploring technologies that can contribute to reducing overall costs along the patient journey.

At AdviseInc we’ve been connecting data for years and we’ve helped hundreds of NHS organisations realise wide-scale benefits. In fact, we pull together more procurement datasets than anyone else; inventory management, purchase orders, accounts payable, contracts, catalogues, and third party data sources are all part of our analysis. Want to find out more? Get in touch today

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