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Darren Ransley 5 May 2020
This article is available in: English

Top 5 best practice tips for pre-procurement of a pathology network

Procuring a new pathology system is more than just finding the lowest cost supplier, says Darren Ransley, Sales Director at CliniSys | MIPS. You should focus on identifying a provider who understands and shares your vision for pathology and can help you to achieve this. In this article Darren offers his five best-practice tips for pathology professionals embarking on their procurement journey.

When beginning the process towards procuring a new pathology system, there are so many questions and competing priorities. You have to do a service reconfiguration; you have to standardise and replace equipment and of course you have to select and embed a LIS system all whilst undertaking a transparent, fair – and often accelerated – procurement process. So what comes first?

Instead of diving in, first take a step back and reflect. To help you in that process, here are my five best-practice pre-procurement tips.

  1. Build a common understanding

Laboratory Services redesign has the potential to change pathology services for the better, delivering higher quality outcomes more efficiently – but only if everyone shares the vision for the future and buys into it wholeheartedly.

Central to the success of any procurement process and system reconfiguration is a shared vision for the programme that’s simple to articulate.

Everyone involved, from the laboratory to the boardroom, needs to buy in to the potential for pathology service redesign. Building this common understanding at the start is fundamental.

You can formulate this vision into a roadmap for success that you can describe, share and, when necessary, revise.

  1. Identify and agree on your network priorities

Laboratory Services networks have emerged because they centralise experience. By bringing them together, experts can perform their critical functions more efficiently and effectively.

The driving force in pathology redesign is improving quality of care, not cutting costs, says NHS England. It’s about developing a sustainable and viable pathology service at a national, regional and local level.

When designing your procurement process, define and agree on your priorities as a charter and use these to guide you.

Procurement processes naturally focus on numbers, and there are cost savings to be made – but pathology service reconfiguration is more than that. It’s about centralising experience, sharing knowledge and improving the speed and quality of diagnostics.

At a practical level, you should seek to work with a supplier who understands and shares this vision. You’re not simply buying a LIS system; you’re investing in a partnership, and you need a partner that will be supportive, responsive and effective.

  1. Engage suppliers early

A successful procurement process is about getting the best value, not identifying and selecting the lowest cost supplier. The procurement process must be transparent and beyond reproach, but it should also focus on achieving the best outcomes for patients.

Personally, the best and most effective procurement activities I’ve been involved with have involved suppliers early in the process.

LIS suppliers will actively seek to engage with you early as soon as possible. This isn’t about attempting to gain an unfair advantage, but about attaining an in-depth understanding of your requirements, priorities and vision as a network.

By listening to you and learning about you, we can shape our offer to your network and your needs. Supplier days – often funded by suppliers – offer a unique opportunity for all sides to develop this understanding and begin a dialogue.

Active and in-depth engagement with suppliers early in your procurement process will not only improve the quality of responses, but they can streamline the process too. Your chosen suppliers will provide better, richer and more relevant answers to your questions when we submit our answers to you.

  1. Have a positive mental attitude

Laboratory Services reconfiguration is a once in a generation chance to transform the way this life-changing service is designed and delivered. You’re shaping pathology for generations to come, which is both an incredible opportunity – and a huge responsibility.

Successful leaders approach significant challenges such as this with the right attitude. They have confidence in the process and a belief in the outcome. They share this with their teams, inspiring others to join the journey.

During the process, there will be setbacks and challenges. As your network begins to take shape, you must learn, adapt and evolve.

Having an overriding belief in what you’re doing can help you navigate this uncertainty and lead, even when the future is unknown.

  1. Be realistic about time

Procurement processes take more time than you think, so build in some slack.

While there is pressure within the system and organisations to fast-track pathology procurement and reconfiguration, it’s something that you should resist. Compressing deadlines puts undue strain on those leading the process and sets unrealistic expectations to stakeholders.

Be realistic about the time taken to complete each of the procurement stages and introduce a contingency.

Laboratory Services procurement isn’t something you can realistically do alongside a full-time job because it almost is a full-time job in itself.

Successful procurements involve experienced people who are dedicated to the project, with time ring-fenced to focus solely on the outcomes.

And remember, the procurement of a LIMS system is the first stage in a whole process of transformation. LIS is the enabler of the network, but you will need to invest significant amounts of time on reconfiguring the service, communicating system redesign and culture change.

If you are interested in learning more about the pathology procurement process, you can contact Darren at 01932 581252 for an informal discussion.