Oxford Pharmacy Store is an NHS organisation and part of Oxford Health NHS FT. The company was established in 1988 and is based in Kennington, Oxford where it employs 34 people at its warehouse facility.
The business specialises in the wholesale and distribution of prescription medicines and other pharmaceutical products to NHS hospitals and other healthcare providers across the whole of the UK.
Over 1000 products are kept in stock, with items being sourced from around 50 UK based suppliers. On the sales side, the business handles around 150 orders per day which are predominantly received by email and fax. Alongside the pressures of running an efficient general business operation, the company must also maintain strict regulatory compliance. Here, Commercial Stock Manager Michael Timms tells us more about the issues the business faces and how OrderWise is helping to maintain efficiency and deliver end-to-end traceability.
As a business in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector, Oxford Pharmacy Store must comply with strict MHRA regulations. These concern batch traceability for product recalls, clear audit trails and documentation, effective control of expiry dated products and the use of GS1 barcodes.
In addition, the NHS has implemented an eProcurement Strategy to be adhered to whereby all suppliers to the NHS must utilise GS1 barcodes on products supplied, ensuring the end-to-end traceability of items is achieved. Furthermore the EU Falsified Medicines Directive will be fully in force by 2019, which requires further traceability in terms of serial numbers.
With these more stringent regulations, together with business growth and expansion, Oxford Pharmacy Store found that compliance was becoming more onerous, time consuming and costly. Using an Excel based system was no longer suitable and as Michael tells us;
“The business needed a system with more power and ability in terms of traceability.”
As a business managing a large product range, multiple suppliers and customers, as well as having strict regulations to comply with, Oxford Pharmacy Store needed a system that was both robust and adaptable. Key requirements were features to increase efficiency and provide time saving functionality, as well as powerful product traceability features.
Michael highlights the important required elements as, “comprehensive stock control and visibility, forecasting, management of special prices and pricing structures, Excel imports/exports, batch traceability and tight control of expiry dated products.”
The challenges faced by the business and the system requirements being sought led the business to OrderWise and the company has been using the system since 2012.
The OrderWise Solution
As a modular and scalable software system, OrderWise was able to provide Oxford Pharmacy Store with a tailored solution that met their needs and requirements in terms of accuracy and productivity. Providing powerful stock control functionality gave them the visibility and control that was crucial to their business and helped to ensure that regulatory requirements were met in the most effective and efficient manner. In discussing the early days, Michael comments:
“Our staff went up to OrderWise for training and that really brought home the time saving and other benefits the system could offer. Going from a massive Excel spreadsheet that took a long time to load to OrderWise which could give us any information within seconds – it was a massive improvement.”
Michael goes on to discuss the benefits Oxford Pharmacy Store has seen by stating that, “Being demand driven and dealing with expiry dated products, it’s important that we’re not buying too many products so as to reduce the risk of wastage. OrderWise gives us tight control of stock and key information is available at a glance, so we can see how many products we’re selling and to where we’re selling them.”
With increasing regulation being a growing challenge for businesses in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector, Michael notes that:
“OrderWise has made maintaining compliance easier and we’re able to trace products and handle any recalls much more effectively and efficiently than we could previously.”
Streamlining processes and increasing efficiencies are at the heart of OrderWise and Michael also points out that, “We’re able to manage special prices and different pricing structures much better and we need less staff than we would if we were using manual processes. Being able to customise documentation and output via email is more efficient and saves us both time and costs.”
In terms of future plans, a larger warehouse is certainly on the horizon for Oxford Pharmacy Store and Michael notes:
“Having a software solution in OrderWise that provides flexibility and can cope with future growth gives us confidence that they are the right partner for us moving forward.”
OrderWise looks forward to further supporting Oxford Pharmacy Store and we’d like to thank Michael Timms for taking the time to talk to us.
More information on Oxford Pharmacy Store can be found at: www.oxfordpharmacystore.co.uk