• Improving the pharmaceutical supply chain: assessing the reality of e-quality through e-commerce application in hospital pharmacy

      Breen, Liz; Crawford, H. (2005)
      Purpose – This paper aims to examine the role of e-commerce in hospital pharmacy in the procurement of pharmaceuticals and determine how this has improved the internal pharmaceutical supply chain. Whilst e-commerce is in its infancy in this area it is still considered to be an important facet of supply chain management. E-trading within NHS pharmacies is conducted via electronic data interchange (EDI) offering proven benefits and ensuring the efficient and effective transmission of data between remote parties. Design/methodology/approach – The data were collected via a case-study in an NHS trust pharmacy supported and by questionnaires distributed to NHS and community pharmacies in the north-west of England. Findings – The findings support the view that there are benefits to be gained from introducing EDI into a purchasing department as the next logical step towards a total e-commerce solution (internet-based) and instigating quality improvements. It also proposes that the implementation and use of e-commerce in hospital pharmacies can be aligned with progress made in small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and questions why, if such benefits can be realised, the use of e-commerce systems are not more widespread. Research limitations/implications – The implications of this research is that it offers a “snap-shot” of progress made-to-date of e-commerce in NHS Pharmacy, which can provide guidance for mangers and healthcare professionals managing their e-commerce/quality improvement agenda. The research conducted was restricted to a specific regional area of the NHS and could be applied to a larger national sample group. Future research within this field should also consider the cost of not introducing e-commerce in pursuing quality improvement. Originality/value – This discussion offers an insight into how a pharmacy approached EDI, and this is further supported by recent research conducted into examining the pharmacy systems in operation in the north-west of England and accompanying EDI systems and an analysis of EDI uptake and use in a sample of pharmacies in the same region, the latter being supported by anecdotal evidence of pros and cons to using EDI and potential barriers to its introduction.