A Matter of Life and Death. Literally
When Sjukehusapoteka Vest‘s four joint hospital pharmacies in Western Norway develop new work processes it is of vital importance that the procedures are carried out correctly and that services and products meet the required standard. People's health and lives are at stake. It is business management turned into a matter of life and death.
In 2013 the management of Sjukehusapoteka Vest realized that the old quality management system did not meet the required standard. The four pharmacies within the organization had different work methods, routines, and procedures, and there is no common best practice.
With the guidance from Qualisoft consultants, the Norwegian partner of QualiWare, a new business management system was implemented. The lion's share of the core processes and some of the support processes throughout the organization were charted, revised and re-drafted using the QualiWare solution.
"One substantial gain with this project is a new, coordinated practice across the four pharmacies, which are all in different geographical locations. There were different solutions as to how critical work tasks should be performed. The new business portal allowed us to rein things in and create best practice for a number of important processes," explains Øystein Torgauten, project manager at Sjukehusapoteka Vest.
Ownership and involvement
According to Torgauten, the aim of the project is to become more commercially focused as well as improving skills and capacity for change within the organization.
"Employees from all parts of the organization have taken part in the project and contributed to it. This creates a sense of ownership and involvement. The employees also have an in-depth understanding of customer needs. In this project, we have succeeded in promoting a lot of knowledge at multiple levels within the organization," says Torgauten.
Integrated Quality and business management
The first phase of the project focused on describing a selection of core and supporting processes and implementing a common practice across the pharmacies. The QualiWare web portal functions as a central knowledge portal, linking overall goals with process-level goals, and it links roles to requirements for expertise and training.
"As I see it, the software allows the user to do a lot 'out of the box' and it meets all our needs. The employees have an intuitive understanding of the processes and flow diagrams," says Torgauten when describing the online collaboration platform supplied by QualiWare.
As an operator of hospital pharmacies, Sjukehusapoteka Vest handles specialized and scarce pharmaceutical products, complicated reimbursement arrangements, in-house production of pharmaceutical products and advice concerning use and handling in hospitals and by patients. Quality and business management are well integrated into the portal.
A decision was recently made by the management team to continue the project into a new phase focusing on management processes, Øystein Torgauten explains.
"We want to focus on actually following through on our plans. Management means following overall decisions all the way through to day-to-day operations and using experiences from operations to improve processes.”
Do business on market terms. Or don’t do business at all
In addition to operating in a complicated, specialized pharmaceutical area, Sjukehusapoteka Vest has also been presented with commercial challenges. EU-legislation, acceded to law in Norway, requires publicly-owned companies exposed to private competition to be run on market terms.
"As a hospital pharmacy, we have to be able to compete in terms of both quality and efficiency in order to have a right to exist. There are a lot of operators who would like to get into the health market. We are very good at the technical side, but our income could be better. This is where process control and quality management can help us," says Øystein Torgauten.
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