By replacing PDA scanners with Scandit-enabled smartphones, ERS halved their scanning time so that drivers now complete critical medical deliveries significantly faster. And their hardware costs are almost 90% lower.
ERS Medical – Rapid scanning brings more efficient delivery of pathology samples
ERS Medical provides a range of specialist patient transport and courier services to the NHS and the wider healthcare sector. The company’s dedicated healthcare courier options are offered on a next-day, or often a same-day, basis including secure collection and delivery of pathological specimens, biomedical equipment, sterile equipment for central sterile services departments, internal mail, and confidential medical records.
To ensure it can provide a reliable track-and-trace service, ERS Medical links its computer aided despatch (CAD) system with electronic data capture software so that the delivery and pick-up of pathological specimens, many of which need to be delivered within strict timeframes, are fully co-ordinated and meet the expectations of customers. The high level of competence that ERS Medical can offer through consolidating delivery routes and honing pick-up-and-drop-off processes means that its customers benefit from considerable cost savings and increased efficiencies.
Starting Point – Improve timescales on route
Traditional PDA barcode scanners were being used by ERS Medical’s team of couriers to scan the barcodes on the path specimen bags. The speed with which they could achieve this task was determined by the scanning rate and this was proving too long, causing unnecessary delays on the delivery route. In addition, whilst the PDA’s could be mounted in the delivery vehicles, they didn’t allow satnav to be accessible from the same device, the company could not integrate its CAD software onto the devices, they were expensive to replace and only offered a limited range of barcode readability.
Vision – Lower costs and improve scanning ease of use
ERS Medical was keen to find a solution that would enable improved barcode scanning and integrate with its own software, but which would not be difficult for its drivers to learn or use. The company was aware that using mobile devices was an option and that this would provide it with the cameras it wanted to use. Switching to entry-level smartphones, despite the initial investment, would quickly represent a considerable saving and drive a lower TCO by eliminating the need to use dedicated scanning hardware.
Solution – Integration with track and trace system
The company launched a trial in which it provided drivers with a smartphone equipped with the Scandit Barcode Scanner. Tests were carried out to compare the speed and ease-of-use of this new solution against the PDAs and the drivers found that it was considerably quicker and very straightforward to use in all delivery scenarios. The success of the trial prompted ERS Medical to initiate a full integration of the Scandit solution onto its computer aided dispatch platform and on completion a new version of the app was made available to its team of drivers.
Results – Speed, efficiency and audit trail enhanced by mobile scanning app
The immediate benefit of using the Scandit app on a smartphone was that scanning time was at least 50% faster, allowing drivers to move more quickly through their pick-up-and-drop-off schedule. ERS Medical found that they could also use much smaller barcodes on the path specimen bags and scan multiple bags rapidly and this agility improved efficiency. Drivers reported that the ease with which they could move from the Google Maps app to the scanning app on the smartphone, and that it easily fitted into a standard phone cradle in the delivery vehicle, was a great advantage.
Cost savings were quickly evident too. Instead of paying £800 for each new PDA, the company was spending just £100 for a smartphone, it discovered that battery life was longer, and the cost of repairing or replacing broken devices was also much lower.
Switching to the Scandit Barcode Scanner has also allowed ERS Medical to enhance its track and trace system. This now logs every scan during each stage of the delivery process, from the moment the pathology specimen bags are picked up by the drivers at each hospital or medical centre on their round through to when they are dropped off at the lab and scanned out. A full audit of every journey, with accurate times, is accessible and this allows the company to ensure it adheres to its pre-agreed KPIs.
“We are charged with the safe transportation of important, and often time-critical pathology specimens and it is important that we can account for their safe pick up and despatch at every stage,” commented Gary Brown, Courier Operations Manager at ERS Medical. “By making use of the speed and accuracy of the Scandit Barcode Scanner app on smartphones, our drivers can do their jobs more efficiently and more easily, and we can monitor every part of this process to ensure it provides 100% customer satisfaction.”