Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust injected with IoT tech to better manage inventory

A barcode scanning systems has helped make the Trust's staff more efficient

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is increasingly making its way into the healthcare world, with the latest tech roll out cropping up in Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

Working with Zebra Technology Corporation, a specialist in rugged mobile computers, the Trust has started using the Zebra MC18 computer, in tandem with technology from partner Ingencia Solutions, to carry out semi-automated and mobile inventory management.

Deployed across 16 theatres and eight locations, The Trust's clinical staff uses the simple Android-based handheld MC18 computer to scan barcodes of medical products being used and returned from use in delivering clinical care, which then feeds the information into Ingencia Solutions' inventory management system to automatically log and adjust the Trust's stock levels in real time.

What might seem like a rather simple system effectively replaced the need for the manual logging and recording of the Trust's inventory, which has resulted in a 90% reduction in the time clinicians spend working on stock ordering and replenishment in the head and neck theatre.

Storage space has also been reduced thanks to improved stock visibility and control, which has, according to Zebra, ultimately led to improved patient care.

"We have transformed our process, improved data collection and secured much greater control over purchasing and inventory. Our staff can also dedicate more time to clinical activity and ultimately improve patient care," said Monika Nott, project lead at the Trust.

Wayne Miller, healthcare director of the EMEA region at Zebra highlighted how the such a system goes beyond just efficiency and cost savings.

"This deployment is proof of the powerful benefits that clinical mobility can have at multiple levels of care," he said. "Not only are there obvious cost and operational savings in the way stock is managed, but it also reduces the time NHS clinicians spend overseeing the supply chain. This means they can spend more time on improving the quality of patient care."

The use of Zebra's technology is part of the Trust's overall "Scan4safety" program, which looks to mix IoT -style barcode scanning technology to better track patients throughout their hospital treatment from admission through to discharge.

Image credit: Zebra 

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