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06 Oct 2023 | 08:00

Scan4Safety: Revolutionising healthcare in NHS England

Nurse scanning patient's wristband in a hospital ward
Scan4Safety is a groundbreaking initiative that has redefined the way healthcare is delivered. In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, precision and efficiency are paramount, leading NHS England to embark on this transformative technology programme. In this blog, we will delve into the essence of Scan4Safety, its inception, reaffirmation, and its profound impact on the NHS. We will also explore the benefits of implementing Scan4Safety solutions in NHS Trusts and offer insights into how to embark on this transformative path.

What is Scan4Safety?

Scan4Safety was introduced to the NHS in England with the vision of enhancing patient safety and healthcare efficiency through the use of standardised barcoding and scanning technology. This initiative was officially introduced in 2013, with the goal of optimising the healthcare supply chain and improving patient care outcomes. It was championed by the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and has received strong support from the NHS and industry partners. Scan4Safety aligns with GS1 standards, which ensure that products and services in the healthcare sector are labelled with unique barcodes, making them easily traceable and transparent across the entire healthcare system.

Why should NHS Trusts implement a Scan4Safety solution in 2023 and beyond?

In 2023, Scan4Safety received a resounding vote of confidence as it was reaffirmed by NHS leaders and industry stakeholders. This reaffirmation underscores the commitment of NHS England to the principles of Scan4Safety, emphasising its continued importance in the pursuit of excellence in healthcare management and patient care. 

Implementing barcode scanning of high-risk medical devices has been mandated by the Government in the recent NHS Mandate 2023. Priority 3 of the mandate states that all data captured from barcode scanning of high-risk medical devices must be submitted to the Medical Device Outcome Registry (MDOR) by March 2024. This milestone reflects the government's dedication to improving patient safety and outcome tracking.

Scan4Safety success stories from demonstrator sites

The success of Scan4Safety can be witnessed through the experiences of the six demonstrator sites that participated in the initiative. According to the Scan4Safety report, these sites have witnessed significant improvements in inventory management, reduced wastage, and, most importantly, enhanced patient safety. For instance, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust achieved remarkable results by implementing a Scan4Safety solution with The Barcode Warehouse, showcasing the potential benefits that other NHS Trusts can realise.

Benefits of implementing Scan4Safety solutions

The implementation of Scan4Safety solutions in NHS Trusts offers a multitude of benefits, further solidifying its importance in modern healthcare management:

  1. Enhanced patient safety: with standardised barcoding, the risk of medication errors and misidentification is significantly reduced, leading to improved patient safety.
  2. Improved inventory management: Scan4Safety enables real-time tracking of medical supplies and equipment, reducing wastage and ensuring the availability of essential items when needed.
  3. Data-driven decision-making: the data collected through barcode scanning allows healthcare professionals to make informed decisions and identify areas for improvement in patient care.
  4. Enhanced efficiency: by streamlining processes, Scan4Safety optimises workflow, reducing administrative burden and allowing healthcare providers to focus on patient care.
  5. Compliance with regulatory requirements: Scan4Safety ensures compliance with regulatory standards, reducing the risk of costly penalties and legal issues.

What does a Scan4Safety inventory management and point-of-care scanning solution include?

A comprehensive Scan4Safety solution typically comprises the following components:

  1. An intelligent automation healthcare software platform designed to provide real-time and accurate data captured from scanning barcodes.
  2. Mobile computers: handheld devices equipped with barcode scanners for data capture at point-of-care.
  3. Label printers and labels: high-quality label printers and GS1-compliant labels for marking medical equipment and devices with unique barcodes.

Getting started with a Scan4Safety solution

To implement an inventory management and point-of-care solution in your NHS Trust, it’s essential to take a structured approach. Our short guide NHS Mandate Priority 3: Barcode Technology in the NHS includes tips for implementing barcode technology in your NHS Trust, based on our extensive experience.  

Scan4Safety is not merely a healthcare initiative; it's a transformative force that is reshaping the future of healthcare in NHS England. With its reaffirmation in 2023 and inclusion in the Government's NHS Mandate, the importance of Scan4Safety cannot be overstated. The benefits are clear: enhanced patient safety, improved inventory management, data-driven decision-making, and enhanced efficiency.

To begin your Scan4Safety journey and find out more about implementing barcode technology in your NHS Trust, you can speak to a healthcare expert by getting in touch on our healthcare solutions page. We are GS1 UK-approved for our inventory management and point-of-care scanning solution.



Image credit to GS1 Global Office provided with consent from GS1 UK.
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