Barcodes to save NHS money and improve patient safety
In a move that could save the NHS millions of pounds, barcode technology will be used across all NHS trusts by the end of 2012, the Department of Health has said.
The new ‘GS-1’ standard barcodes will be used on all products that are bought by the NHS and it will make it easier to track and compare purchases between trusts.
Some hospitals have to pay three-times more for everyday products like surgical gloves than others, an outgoing which costs the NHS £6 billion a year.
It is hoped that by using barcodes to compare the price of such purchases the NHS will be able to make significant savings.
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Aside from cutting costs, the use of barcodes will also help to improve patient safety as they have been proven to reduce medication errors.
Barcode technology is also able to effectively track and trace surgical instruments and equipment, which helps to improve record keeping processes and reduce error and contamination.
The retail sector is one industry which has already implemented a ‘one barcode’ system and it has enabled comparison websites to help shoppers save money on their groceries.
Health Minister Simon Burns said in an interview: “The NHS cannot afford to continue paying different prices for the same products.”
“By simply using barcodes, NHS procurement will become more efficient as organisations can see how much they are paying for products compared to others.”
He added: “It’s a simple idea that could save the NHS millions.”
“Most importantly this is a vital opportunity to save money for reinvestment in front-line care at a time when the NHS needs to make efficiency savings,” he continues.
“The NHS has enormous buying power if it works consistently and GS-1 bar-coding is a key foundation block to improve it.”
The Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trusts have already implanted barcode technology and has managed to save more than £500,000 in the first year of their use.
To implement the use of barcodes across the whole of the NHS, health ministers are asking the businesses that supply the NHS to increasingly use GS-1 barcodes on their products.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”