We’ve come a long way from the days of rigid procurement processes, with predetermined specifications and cost-driven decision-making. Alongside a welcome shift towards evaluation based on quality and value for money, we’ve seen a dramatic change in the approach to procuring health services, where collaboration is driving significant improvements says Warren Simms, our Associate Director of Procurement and Market Management.
Traditionally, it’s been easy to jump straight into a procurement project assuming you know what outcome you need to achieve. With set criteria in mind, the focus would be on finding a provider that ticks all the boxes and can deliver the service as cheaply as possible. This might have been the case a few years ago, but we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the approach to procuring health services in recent years, resulting in improved services, better efficiency, and stronger outcomes for patients.
Collaboration is the key to gaining better results from the procurement process. This means involving clinicians, patients, partners, providers and other stakeholders right from the start of a project. That’s why we focus on gaining a strong commitment to collaboration at the earliest opportunity - not just in terms of seeking stakeholder input but, involving them in every stage of the process using a coproduction approach. Robust project management is essential when trying to gain consensus from a wide range of stakeholders and keep progress on track.
Of course, collaboration doesn’t stop once you have defined the approach but these strong foundations make it easier to involve all stakeholders at every stage, from inception to evaluation. This level of collaboration brings a richer understanding of both patient and commissioner requirements to any procurement project, and ensures continuous innovation as we have access to the latest clinical expertise as well as specific local requirements. Broadly structuring our procurement team into areas of clinical excellence such as Primary Care and Health and Justice, has supported this collaborative approach and ensures relevant procurement process efficiencies are built in to new projects from the outset.
Procurement, like all areas of the NHS, needs to be open to innovation and improvement if we are to successfully support commissioners in their drive to improve quality and patient care. In our experience, being open minded from the start and encouraging a culture of collaboration leads to stronger buy-in from all partners and the successful delivery of better health services.
This is a summary of a blog written for NHS Voices. To view the full blog visit www.nhsconfed.org/blog/2017/05/we-re-seeing-a-seismic-shift-in-the-approach-to-procuring-health-services