Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust is currently piloting the Wander system, which enables nurses and other clinical staff to order stock via Pocket PC handhelds at any time of the night or day. The system also enables hospital staff to raise requisitions, track orders and deliveries, check purchase orders and manage stock.
The system uses Microsoft's .net framework, with the XML data format providing the messaging mechanism.
Analysts have welcomed the launch. Nigel Deighton, vice-president and research director at Gartner, said, "I think this move is very positive, wireless local area networks are extensively used in hospitals in the US, so this makes a great deal of sense. The technology can certainly lead to considerable efficiency savings."
Officials at Bradford NHS Trust expect the system to save its hospitals tens of thousands of pounds.
Rose Stephens, chief nurse and director of hospital services at Bradford, said, "This new purchasing system forces all staff to select orders from a standardised catalogue." Product purchasing compliance will lead to a reduction in clinical risk as well as tens of thousands of pounds worth of savings for the trust, she added.
The system's designer KPMG Consulting claimed the project could result in a £200m annual saving if adopted by other trusts across the NHS, which is one of the largest organisations in the world.
Cost savings come from providing information that will enable dramatic supply-chain improvements.
Designed by KPMG Consulting in partnership with Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, the Wander system has been piloted by Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust since February 2002. Staff access Wander using HP iPaq Pocket PCs over a Cisco wireless Lan.
Data quality is a major issue for the NHS. Earlier this year an Audit Commission report revealed that few NHS trusts in England fully comply with basic good practice in collecting non-clinical patient information.