KFM harnesses new technology to help clinicians spend more time with patients

Clinicians at one of London’s largest and busiest hospitals are now spending more time with patients after KFM started using Microsoft technology to ensure staff have the right supplies and equipment.

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the capital’s leading major trauma centres, with over 1,447 beds across five sites in south east London. King’s treats over 1.3m patients a year and performs around 1,250 operations a week in 45 operating theatres.

King’s created a wholly owned subsidiary, KFM, to run its support services including the purchase and delivery of vital medical supplies and equipment.

KFM staff now use Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations running on Azure to order, track and trace, and pay for medical supplies and equipment across the Trust. This was previously done by clinicians using multiple systems. Not only was the process time-consuming and inefficient but it also meant that clinicians had to divert some of their time from patient care.

Since the introduction of Dynamics 365 in in October 2019, the time taken to receipt goods received from suppliers has fallen by 70% and ordering times by 25%. Financial processes have been streamlined, accounting accuracy has improved and waste has been reduced.

KFM have also eliminated a number of manual and paper-based processes, saving staff time and further reducing costs. Real-time stock visibility, digital signatures and track and trace have also enabled the company to respond more quickly to the continually changing demand patterns. Supply chain staff now use Dynamics 365 on tablet devices so that they can work on the move and in real time collaboration alongside clinicians. Not only does this improve productivity, but it enables the KFM team to apply efficient supply chain management which has a positive impact on delivering patient care.

A woman at a desk uses a laptop, with a stethescope nearby

KFM have eliminated a number of paper-based processes

Financial benefits of more than £10 million from releasing clinical time to spend with patients, cost savings and efficiency gains have been reinvested in Kings.

Andrew Lockwood, Chief Executive, KFM, said: “King’s is one of the capital’s busiest acute Trusts, so a critical part of ensuring high quality patient care is to ensure that systems and processes are as productive and efficient as possible.

“By using Dynamics 365, KFM has released clinicians from routine ordering, checking storerooms and dealing with suppliers so that they can spend as much time as possible with their patients. The team and I are very proud that we are able to play a role in improving the patient experience by leveraging new technology.”

Dynamics 365 replaced four systems at KFM. Much of the invoice processing is now automated using optical character recognition (OCR) with machine learning embedded in Microsoft’s technology. This means that Dynamics 365 automatically scans and reads the invoices and checks against the purchase order to ensure that everything is correct, removing the need for KFM staff to manually check every order. Any discrepancies are automatically flagged by the system. Up to 80% of invoices are now processed without any manual intervention.

The introduction of Dynamics 365 has enabled resource efficiencies to be made in the KFM finance team, despite a 41% increase in invoice volumes due to new business growth.

When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in the UK and King’s began to treat patients who tested positive with the virus, Dynamics 365 helped KFM respond quickly to support the Kings medical teams.

“We weren’t expecting to test out Dynamics 365 in such a challenging situation so quickly,” Lockwood said.

KFM was able to use Dynamics 365 to quickly set-up and place orders with existing and new suppliers, rapidly switching from one or two suppliers to sourcing from a wide range of suppliers in a short space of time due to the urgency of the situation.

“We chose Dynamics 365 because Microsoft products are familiar for staff,” added Lockwood. “It’s also secure, scalable and compatible with other Microsoft and third-party software. For example, we can add a Dynamics 365 CRM module that manages our remote workers who help people with dialysis in their own homes. That will improve the experience of patients by reducing anxiety. This is becoming a critical way of working for us now in a way that it wasn’t before, so we need to be with a company that is going to continually invest in technology to make sure it’s the best it can be.

“Dynamics 365 is helping to digitise our business from start to finish. For example, if we take dialysis as an example, we can fully digitise the process. The fluid is ordered, delivered and receipted. Then we can deliver these items directly, tracking and tracing each individual delivery right to the patient’s front door.

“The next step is managing our technicians’ journeys and rostering through the Dynamics 365 route planner, prioritising their workload to make each working day as efficient as possible.”

KFM is also using Microsoft Power BI with artificial intelligence. The company plans to analyse the data accumulated from invoices and orders to forecast what medical supplies will be needed at what times during the year. This will help inform better procurement decisions, improve the efficiency of the supply chain and reduce waste.

“The NHS has a lot of purchasing and usage data, and Dynamics 365 with Power BI can help us unlock it to create future value,” Lockwood added.

Gordon Tait, Group Sales Director at Microsoft partner Annata, which helped implement the solution, said: “Annata were delighted to partner with KFM to deliver the improved business outcomes now being realised by their Dynamics 365 implementation, and continue to identify areas where the wider use of Microsoft technology in future will further enable KFM’s digital transformation strategy.”