Friday 1 August 2014

NHS – World Class or Merely the Best of a Bad Bunch?

A recent report into healthcare systems by the Commonwealth Fund, an international panel of experts, put the NHS first overall out of the 11 countries assessed. The assessment was based on a vast range of data sources including patients, doctors and the World Health Organisation.

This result immediately drew me to two conclusions:
1. The NHS operates as a thought leader through its people, processes and outcomes.
2. It was simply assessed to be the best of a bad bunch.
While my experience on aspects contributing to the outcomes of the NHS may be limited, my experience in procurement is not. Working for an organisation that has a heavy presence in providing technology used throughout NHS procurement departments, I have seen examples that lend themselves to both my two initial conclusions.

Recently, my focus has been in the area of Spend Analysis and the concept of Benchmarking. Prior to a wonderfully exciting life in procurement, my assumption that the NHS would know what they spend their money on was a no-brainer. As many of you (who are far more enlightened than I used to be!) will know; this is not always the case.

Many NHS organisations, as guided by the Department of Health (DOH), have now started to take Spend Analysis, and indeed Benchmarking, seriously. With functionality and system capability catching up to demand and aspirations, coupled with the realisation that key features such as;

  • Enhanced Classification
  • Efficient Data cleansing
  • Information Sharing

These are essential for effective Benchmarking, we have seen a sharp increase in NHS organisations jumping on board with Benchmarking.

This uptake in best-in-class solutions lends itself to the fact that the NHS (or at least parts of it) is, in fact, not such an archaic system. The fact that I was drawn to two conclusions seems appropriate; the NHS may have its problems and rub a lot of people up the wrong way, but behind the scenes there are some world-leading practices being implemented. 

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