Frontier Medical Group boosts safety with IBM Lotus Domino

Published on 08-Aug-2012

Validated on 11 Feb 2014

"From day one, we have seen considerable benefits from the new application and, going forward, we are certain that it will only build on the value it has already delivered to the business." - Stephen Coombs, IT Manager for Frontier Medical Products

Customer:
Frontier Medical Group

Industry:
Healthcare

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Enabling Business Flexibility, Mobile, Transforming Business

IBM Business Partner:
Codel Software

Overview

Frontier Medical Group is one of the leading suppliers of consumable products and services to healthcare providers in the UK, Europe and internationally, and employs some 240 people. A large part of the group’s business involves supplying plastic containers for the disposal of sharps, such as needles and syringes, to NHS hospitals and primary care trusts in the UK.

Business need:
Frontier Medical Group’s business initiative was simple – reduce the time, resource, effort and cost throughout the Safe Programme Audits process, which is carried out at its client base of NHS hospitals and Trusts. These audits are vital for ensuring that hospitals are complying with safety regulations, but the paper-based process was time-consuming, error-prone and inefficient.

Solution:
Frontier worked with IBM® Business Partner Codel Software to develop a new Safe Programme Audit application. Sales representatives use Apple iPads to capture the audit data, which is then synchronised to the company’s central systems through an IBM Lotus® Domino® web application. The application is integrated with Frontier’s existing CRM system from Codel Software, which provides the sales team with an overview of client details, all communication and sales history.

Benefits:
Reduces the time taken to complete hospital audits from weeks to a few days, enabling staff to visit more clients and provide faster, more effective service. Eliminates routine, labour-intensive manual processes, freeing up staff for more productive work. Enables sales teams to perform more comprehensive audits, which helps to make hospitals even safer. Helps to differentiate Frontier Medical Group from the competition, as an innovator that is always a leader with the latest technology. Lowers costs and environmental impact by eliminating the printing of large paper-based reports.

Case Study

Frontier Medical Group is one of the leading suppliers of consumable products and services to healthcare providers in the UK, Europe and internationally, and employs some 240 people. A large part of the group’s business involves supplying plastic containers for the disposal of sharps, such as needles and syringes, to NHS hospitals and primary care trusts in the UK.

As part of its sales agreement with healthcare providers in the UK, the company regularly sends teams to perform “Safe Programme Audits” on hospitals that are using its products, to ensure that health and safety regulations are being properly followed.

While these audits are considered to be a unique and valuable part of Frontier Medical’s business, the process had become inefficient, time-consuming and out-dated. To complete the Safe Programme Audit, each sales representative had to manually fill out a checklist for each hospital area, location and ward where Frontier Medical Group products are located. The completed checklists, together with any additional written comments, were then posted back to company headquarters in Blackwood, South Wales, a process which was not as streamlined or reliable as possible.

Once the paper forms were received, they had to be reviewed by the sales and production department, who would then collate the data and enter it into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The output was the generation of a draft customer report, which was then posted back to the sales representative, who would return it to the hospital. If any changes needed to be made, the report would have to be sent back to the head office and a final report generated.

According to Stephen Coombs, IT Manager for Frontier Medical Products, “It could take anywhere between several days to a couple of months to complete the entire auditing process. The system was proving to be increasingly unworkable and was preventing us from responding as effectively as we could to customer demands.”

Maximising the value of IBM Lotus technology
Frontier Medical Group realised that significant improvements needed to be made and looked for a way to reduce the amount of time, resources and money that were being dedicated to these audits.

The company asked IBM Business Partner Codel Software, with which it had been working for several years, to collaborate with senior management and the IT team to design and develop a solution.

“We originally engaged Codel to provide support for our existing IBM Lotus Domino and Lotus Notes® software,” states Stephen Coombs. “Codel then developed a custom CRM tool for us on Lotus Domino, which the sales team uses to manage hospital visits, view sales reports and activity, and to keep track of all communication with customers. Based on the success of this CRM tool, we knew that Codel would be able to provide us with some innovative options for a new auditing application.”

As Frontier Medical Group had already heavily invested in an IBM Lotus Domino and Lotus Notes infrastructure, it was an excellent opportunity to build on the investment in IBM software. Codel designed a web-based Safe Programme Audit application – called iAudit – on Lotus Domino Enterprise, which would be integrated with Frontier’s existing CRM system to further enhance value. Apple iPads were chosen as the delivery device for the new application.

“For us, a major plus point was that the solution developed by Codel leveraged our existing Lotus infrastructure, so we didn’t have to invest in any additional software or hardware,” notes Stephen Coombs. “The Codel team pulled different technologies together and created a solution that maximised the benefits of our existing investment.”

Innovative, efficient application
The iAudit application is highly automated: IBM Lotus Domino Enterprise pulls together roughly 80 percent of the data, leaving sales representatives to manually enter the rest on the iPad. Upon startup, the application is synchronised with Frontier’s central servers, downloading any new audits and uploading completed audits.

At the hospital, sales representatives bring up a standard audit questionnaire, which can be customised with additional fields, and tick off each checklist item on the iPad. Sales representatives can also take photos – for example, to provide a visual record of containers that are not filled or closed properly – and enter any additional comments.

Stephen Coombs adds, “The audits consist of two phases: the first is a general ward audit, where the sales team checks whether hospital staff know how to correctly handle the equipment and whether this equipment has been laid out properly. The other phase involves an individual container audit, where sales representatives check that containers are labelled and closed properly, and that they are not overfilled.”

Once the audit has been completed, the Domino web application synchs the data with the main server at Frontier’s head office, where the sales and production department checks the information and outputs a draft report that is posted to the customer.

The sales team can generate an ad-hoc report on the day, which can be reviewed with hospital staff and offers a rough indication of how the hospital has performed.

Faster, more detailed audits
By eliminating inefficient and labour-intensive manual processes, the new iAudit application has cut the time taken to complete audits from weeks to a matter of days. Now that Frontier has streamlined its auditing process, its sales teams can visit more hospitals and ensure that customers have their products fully stocked and are complying with the latest guidelines. As the new application is largely automated, it is designed to free up staff at Frontier’s head office from manual data entry and allow them to focus on more productive work.

Thanks to the improved ease-of-use and efficiency of the new auditing application, sales teams can now perform more comprehensive audits. Previously, sales representatives only performed a cursory container audit, simply counting the number of containers in each ward.

Now, sales teams can complete a detailed report of each container’s contents and position, as it only requires quickly filling out a few more fields on the iPad. With the enhanced level of detail, Frontier can deliver more value to its clients and help to make hospitals safer.

The solution also offers a wealth of valuable data on Frontier Medical Group’s client base. As more information is added to the database from the audits, the organization can build up a picture of how its clients are performing against various benchmarks.

As Stephen Coombs explains, “We can now see how a hospital has performed against the NHS Trust average, or even against the national average. These comparisons are a valuable tool as they help us and our clients to target specific areas for improvement.”

Gaining flexibility and the competitive edge
Additionally, the new solution makes the audit process much more flexible. For example, if a sales representative is asked to inspect an additional hospital ward or perform additional checks, he or she can add new questions and audit unplanned hospital locations on the fly. This dynamism enables Frontier to tailor its auditing process to its customers’ needs and provide enhanced service.

Stephen Coombs concludes, “Frontier has a long history of innovation, and this new application helps us to build on that reputation. As far as we are aware, our competitors don’t offer anything quite like this, so it gives us an edge in the market and sets us apart from the competition. From day one, we have seen considerable benefits from the new application and, going forward, we are certain that it will only build on the value it has already delivered to the business.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
IBM Domino

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012. IBM United Kingdom Limited, PO Box 41, North Harbour, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO6 3AU. Produced in the United Kingdom. August 2012. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Domino, Lotus, and Notes are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at http://www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Other company, product or service names may be trademarks, or service marks of others. IBM and Codel Software are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Codel Software makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.