Today news has broken in Britain that across the NHS different hospitals are paying vastly different amounts for the same products. In some areas a box of blankets is costing £48, whereas in other areas the same box is costing the NHS in excess of £100. With cutting costs the key political issue of the moment this is a difficult position to be in, clearly the taxpayer is not getting value for money here. On the up side it shows that in some areas the NHS are driving for a good price, but there must be a solution to ensure that the entire organisation can share in such success and make the most of volume discounts.
The solution that the Department of Health says it is developing is a system of barcoding to help hospitals negotiate a better price. This is akin to the way supermarkets operate, scanning the barcode of products which are out of stock and automatically sending information back to a central location. This seems all very well for large organisations like the NHS or supermarkets, but this is applicable to most businesses. Barcode reading is cheap and very scalable. Furthermore with the advent of smartphone barcode reading there is little in way of hardware or training costs.
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