A major new procurement platform developed by NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS), The Edge4Health, is being adopted by NHS trust staff across the UK for the first time.
The cloud-based, consumer-style marketplace is aimed at delivering cost savings and efficiencies, better data management, greater compliance and end-to-end supply chain visibility for NHS trusts when buying products and services.
Annual spend for the NHS nationally amounts to some £9bn of products and services.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are the first organisations to go live with The Edge4Health.
More than 1,000 NHS employees are now utilising the platform to buy thousands of goods and services daily.
These goods cover almost a million products ranging from syringes to pacemakers, laptops to imaging equipment – all of which can be selected by requisitioners either direct from the supplier or through the NHS Supply Chain using the consumer-style experience.
Over the last three months more than £8m of NHS spend has been transacted via The Edge4Health, which is now being rolled out widely across the NHS – starting with around 60 NHS trusts that currently use NHS SBS finance and procurement services.
The technology brings together thousands of suppliers and NHS organisations on to one easy-to-use platform, streamlining the buying process while reducing errors and delays in ordering and invoice payment.
As quality data management and interoperability between ordering and inventory management systems become increasingly vital for NHS trusts, The Edge4Health enables clean data to be fed into existing systems, improving reporting and transparency of spend.
Product details are easily uploaded on to the system by suppliers – a shift from previous practice where the onus was on NHS organisations to manage their own catalogues. Suppliers can include rich data, images and more accurate and up-to-date product information, whilst attaching relevant supporting data and notifications to all NHS trusts of product stock-outs, specification changes and discontinued lines within the system.
Those managing contracts and approving prices on behalf of an NHS trust can do so in The Edge4Health. They are able to use the marketplace to search for the products and services they require from multiple suppliers, helping them achieve best value-for-money and drive efficiencies for their organisation.
NHS requisitioners only see the products and prices that have been pre-approved by hospital procurement teams, which means compliance is built-in, spend is more visible and budgets are much easier to manage.
The Edge4Health has been developed and refined in partnership with Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust – led by NHS South of England Procurement Services (SoEPS), a hosted service of the Trust. As a leader in best-practice NHS procurement, SoEPS has pioneered the technology on behalf of the wider healthcare system.
Alan Hoskins, director of procurement at SoEPS, said: “Some of the key attractions of The Edge4Health for procurement teams across the NHS are that it’s an intuitive consumer-style platform, which helps hospital staff to easily buy products against a contract, and means far less procurement team time is spent on the admin around managing catalogues.
“We were particularly keen to enhance the user experience for those within our own Trust by providing them with an efficient, easy-to-use system.
“A big positive for us is having supplier-managed catalogues to enable the reallocation of resource – to allow our team to do more valuable work with suppliers around contract negotiations and monitoring, as well as more on the reporting side.
“In addition, The Edge4Health should really reduce the number of invoice queries, which I’m sure the majority of NHS procurement teams would currently describe as a frustrating and time-consuming problem.”
David Morris, managing director at NHS Shared Business Services, added: “In the NHS, lives depend – quite literally – on having the right product, in the right place, at the right time. Yet until now, the systems to support this have been complex and difficult to use.
“With The Edge4Health, many of the benefits we’re used to as consumers will become available to the NHS for the first time. The intuitive and easy-to-use platform meets the demands of a modern, forward-thinking NHS and will eliminate many of the barriers that – until now – have prevented NHS hospitals from fully meeting Lord Carter’s efficiency targets.
“The meticulous work that has gone into building and refining a digital platform, which can benefit hundreds of individual NHS organisations, has delivered a robust solution that will transform NHS procurement for many years to come.
“The Edge4Health is now a standard part of the NHS SBS service, which we are rolling out at no additional cost to our NHS clients.”