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How Northumbria NHS improve Patient Care using Orca Scan

Serving one of the largest geographical areas of any NHS trust in England, Northumbria NHS Trust provides health and care services to support more than 500,000 people living in Northumberland and North Tyneside.

Since 2023, the team have been using Orca Scan to digitalise their monthly stock take to improve accuracy and confidence as well as time and cost savings.

Here’s how they did it 👇

The challenge

Across four hospitals, the Northumbria NHS Trust holds approximately six million pounds worth of medical devices critical to patient care, as well as medicines and healthcare products.

We wanted to get a ‘grip’ and ‘control’. It’s made a massive difference to us as a team
Mark BerryTheatre Inventory Implants ManagerNorthumbria NHS Trust

Each month, the teams across the Trust had to do a full stock check to understand what they had available in each hospital. Whilst the team used a scanning system, it required sending the staff into storerooms with paper documents explaining which barcodes on each product needed to be scanned to reduce the risk of errors.

Most medical devices have multiple barcodes, making it difficult for staff to know which one to scan
Most medical devices have multiple barcodes, making it difficult for staff to know which one to scan

This is because only some of the barcodes on medical device packaging contain UDI data, which is needed to capture critical details such as batch numbers and expiry dates.

We had to do monthly stock takes purely because some of the data we were getting before Orca Scan wasn’t reliable
Mark BerryTheatre Inventory Implants ManagerNorthumbria NHS Trust

As a result, a monthly stock take could take an entire weekend and often run into the Monday of the following week. This had a huge impact on staff time, costs and morale. Not to mention, the Procurement team who were often unable to get an accurate understanding of stock levels, which had significant practical implications, including:

The solution

Orca Scan was recommended to Northumbria NHS Trust by NECS, an NHS strategic partner that supports the digital transformation of health and care systems.

Over several months, the Orca Scan team worked alongside Mark Berry, Theatre Inventory Implants Manager; Olly Whitehead, eProcurement Manager, and their teams to build a solution that solved their challenges.

Northumbria NHS Trust uses Orca Scan technology to track and process medical devices, medicines and healthcare products.
Northumbria NHS Trust uses Orca Scan technology to track and process medical devices, medicines and healthcare products.

Automatic data capture 💥

Using Orca Scan’s Medical Device tracking solution, the team could automatically recognise UDI barcodes and capture the following

  1. Manufacturer
  2. Description
  3. Quantity Scanned
  4. Device Identifier
  5. Serial Number
  6. Production Date
  7. Lot Number
  8. Expiry Date
  9. Date Scanned

Stop incorrect barcode scans ❌

One of the main challenges the team were facing was knowing which barcode to scan. To make this easier, the Orca team created the ability to reject a scan if an incorrect barcode was scanned.

Using a Trigger “If barcode doesn’t contain UDI data, then notify me via an error message”, the team running the stock take will both see and hear an alert that tells them an incorrect barcode is detected, prompting them to scan the correct one 👌

Expiry date notification 📆

To reduce waste, the team also use Triggers to notify staff when a product has expired. This has additional benefits for increased patient safety and visibility for re-stocks.

Was the solution successful?

Since implementing Orca Scan, the team have seen countless benefits, including:

In fact, before Orca Scan, a monthly stock take would required a team of eight people at each hospital scanning Medical Devices, and it would take a whole weekend to complete. Across all four hospitals, that’s 512 monthly staff hours, or 6,144 hours a year!

Orca Scan provides accurate, reliable data on what stock is available across all four hospitals
Orca Scan provides accurate, reliable data on what stock is available across all four hospitals

Using Orca Scan, a much smaller team complete the same work in around 8 hours per hospital (a total of 195 staff hours/month across the four hospitals). It has been so successful in delivering accurate and reliable data that stock takes are now scheduled bi-annually rather than every month… a HUGE reduction of 94% in staff time 😮‍💨

The cost savings staffing-wise is phenomenal
Mark BerryTheatre Inventory Implants ManagerNorthumbria NHS Trust

With Orca Scan in place, the team can stop burning hours on monotonous tasks and focus on providing safe and high-quality medical care to their patients.

How can you implement this solution?

This solution was custom-built for Northumbria NHS Trust and the final solution is now available using Orca Scan’s out-of-the-box Medical Device and Drug-tracking solutions.

Scan to get started 👇

If you need help customising our medical device solution, get in touch or book a demo with our Customer Success Team.

Thank you 🙏

Thank you to Mark, Olly and the team at Northumbria NHS for working with us on this solution and inviting us to share your story. We look forward to working together to evolve the solution for the benefit of all Orca Scan users 💥

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