Friday, 30 October 2020

Tech pair helping NHS to source vital equipment

Tech pair helping NHS to source vital equipment

A MAN from Henley is helping the NHS source equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ed Bradley developed Edge4Health, an online market place, with his business partner Tim Ingham in 2014 to improve the way NHS providers, such as health trusts and GP surgeries, are supplied.

More than 100 out of 240 NHS trusts have requested access to the pair’s platform over the last fortnight as they search for personal protective equipment and other essential items.

It is free to access and allows health professionals to find products and have them delivered to hospitals and other health settings quickly. They can also access the NHS Supply Chain’s main catalogue.

There are about two million products from thousands of suppliers, who pay £20 a month to list their goods and include US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson.

All the suppliers are checked before they join the platform to ensure their products are legitimate and there is a secure log-in so members of the public cannot access it. Mr Bradley said a lot of the trusts were looking for face masks, scrubs, uniforms and office products.

“This is where it becomes a very challenging time,” he said. “All the stock is depleted from the general supply chains.”

The platform was designed so retailers can compete online against Amazon. Mr Bradley, 47, who lives in St Mark’s Road with his wife and two daughters, said: “In 2014 we were approached by the Department of Health who saw this was needed in the health sector.

“All NHS providers need is a web browser. About 20 hospitals have chosen to fully integrate it into their back office systems.There are many, many more that are using us as a directory to source products and supplies from the wider market. All they have to do is express an interest and we will send them their user credentials to access it.”

He said that otherwise hospitals use the NHS Supply Chain and if they can’t find what they require, they might then resort to purchasing it from unverified suppliers online.

Mr Bradley said: “We see many hospitals saying ‘can anyone help us get this equipment’. That’s what’s happening at the moment.

“There are some legitimate suppliers saying they have stock but the problem with that method is you might not know how reliable the products are. We’re saying come to our platform and we will have authorised suppliers.”

He is pleased that hospitals are benefitting from Edge4Health.

“There was a case where a hospital in Brighton was looking for a specific type of face mask and reached out to us,” said Mr Bradley.

“Through the platform it was able to make a connection and at lunchtime the following day four pallets arrived at the hospital. At the moment we are having more and more organisations contact us on a daily basis saying, ‘can we have access?’ We are making it as widely available as we can.”

In the future, the founders want more hospitals to have the platform fully integrated into their systems.

Mr Bradley said: “Hospital systems are old and have not been refreshed for many years. If someone is trying to purchase a product in a typical hospital system it’s really clunky and old.

“There’s very little data about the product you are trying to purchase. If they can’t find it on the system, they go on to Google and try to find it.

“We bring in millions of products in an environment with pictures and attributes so they can make a really informed choice about what they are buying.

“To have got that traction during this crisis is brilliant. It helps hospitals connect to essential products that are in short supply.

“Beyond the crisis we will continue to install the platform into as many trusts as we can and work with organisations like the Department of Health.”

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