Plymouth improves operational efficiency and reduces reliance on paper

The NHS has transmitted orders via a number of platforms; including fax, email and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). This has been insecure, inefficient and led to number of errors and delays in the supply of medicines.
Issues included orders never being received by the supplier or lack of identification or validation of which product was ordered, which led to incorrect products being supplied. One of the biggest issues at PHNT was orders failing to be received by the supplier when sent by fax. However, as GTINs are not printed onto pharmacy orders, there were still a number of picking errors and delays to supply due to inaccuracies or ambiguities on the PO.

Intended Outcomes

PHNT aimed to reduce its reliance on paper and email and increase the number of orders transmitted electronically. This provides assurance to the Trust that an order has been received by a supplier and reduces the risk of an incorrect product being supplied. Including an accurate GTIN with the order adds invaluable identification and validation of the exact product being ordered, reducing the risk of a purchase order resulting in the wrong medication being supplied. Electronic order transmission also reduces the incidence of failure, which enables greater patient safety and lessens unplanned financial commitments as a result of having to pay for emergency and rapid deliveries.

Action Taken

To improve the capability of the Trust’s pharmacy department to send paperless orders and process electronic invoices, a provider of electronic document transmission services, GHX, was chosen. GHX is also a PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement On Line) Access Point and as such is compliant with the requirements of Scan4Safety. The first step was to identify which products in the pharmacy catalogue were already linked to a correct GTIN to ensure that this enriched data was retained.


By August 2017 PHNT had the following electronic
trading figures:

  • 1,193 orders (a 150% increase)
  • 700 order responses (a 77% increase)
Added on October 10, 2017, in News - Case Studies