The e-Procurement Strategy rolled out by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) requires healthcare authorities and their suppliers to adopt two standards: GS1 and PEPPOL. The latter is the one to be used for exchanging e-messages, in other words, for invoices, purchase orders and delivery notes. But why is it necessary to adopt this system?
First of all, it's important to know what PEPPOL (Pan European Public Procurement On Line) is. It is an initiative to consolidate a common standard in the e-communications of businesses and European Public Administrations. The aim is to enable interoperability among different stakeholders, regardless of their location or the systems they utilize.
As EDICOM expert, Javier Garcia explains: “Operating with PEPPOL is based on a communications network with its own features,” where partners must “exchange their documents through an Access Point”. Or, likewise, by a third party authorized to connect with PEPPOL, such as EDICOM.
PEPPOL implementation in the NHS
Currently, NHS supply chain management operates inefficiently, giving rise to uncontrolled stock and an increase in prices, resulting in excessive economic costs. With the e-Procurement Strategy, the Department of Health (DH) plans to incorporate an electronic data interchange or EDI system between the NHS and all its suppliers to put an end to this problem. This way, invoices, orders and delivery notes will be managed electronically, with their consequent automation.
It is in this process that the adoption of PEPPOL is necessary. The e-Procurement Strategy affects hundreds of companies and organizations of very different types, so the use of PEPPOL acts as a solution to ensure interoperability and alleviate this differentiation. An advantage that can also help businesses in the commercial scope, by facilitating internationalization and participation in public tenders.
In addition, implementing PEPPOL is a security guarantee. This common standard has the support of the European Commission and demands strict technology and legal requirements for its Access Points. In this regard, it is essential that companies affected by the NHS e-Procurement Strategy obtain from their provider the certification that accredits them as such.
Deadlines for adopting PEPPOL
Migration to the NHS paperless strategy is being done gradually to facilitate the technological leap for businesses. Even so, the deadline for PEPPOL adoption is looming closer. By September 30th, suppliers must join the PEPPOL access point and submit a project plan that ensures compliance with this standard to the DoH.
Six months later, on March 31, the deadline for businesses to adapt to receiving orders from NHS access points will be reached, and by September 30, 2017, they must be able to manage all their billing with this system.