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Italy Promotes Healthcare Sector Digitalization Through e-Ordering and NSO


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Italy is one step ahead in the application and extension of electronic data exchange between public and private companies. Dematerialization in the health sector continues to evolve, this time from public companies to private companies. By 2018, the government plans to require all public health sector suppliers to be able to receive orders electronically through the NSO (Nodo Smistamento Ordini) platform. This platform is very similar to the SdI (Sistema Di Interscambio) and will perform the validations and assign an ID to each purchase order, which must appear in the corresponding invoice. This way, the buying cycle is consolidated and connected.

The Ministry of Economics and Finance MEF has rolled out a pilot project with the NSO platform to start testing between public administrations and representative pharmaceutical companies in the country. EDICOM is taking part in this pilot project, which is expected to last three months and is currently being tested with its clients involved in this process.

The NSO platform is intended to be the hub channel through which all orders are passed and forwarded to the respective suppliers. This way, MEF will be able to verify the relation between orders and invoices.

The standard chosen is PEPPOL, an interoperable European standard that is gaining ground in many e-procurement initiatives across the European Union.

We propose two alternatives for electronic transmission. The first is through the NSO platform directly, and the second is through PEPPOL accredited Access Points. EDICOM offers businesses both options, adapted to the needs required in each case:

  • NSO Platform: Through an integrated EDI service, EDICOM can transform the document into the PEPPOL standard and send it via WebServices to the NSO Hub so that this platform can distribute the order to the corresponding public company.
  • PEPPOL network: Use of the PEPPOL infrastructure entails engaging an accredited PEPPOL Access Point, such as EDICOM. This way, the data transfer is executed between two certified Access Points which, in the case of the Administration, is managed by the Intercent-ER agency.

Following the invoice and now the order, the next initiative is expected to involve exchanging the despatch advice message electronically, to achieve complete automation of the purchasing process in the healthcare sector.

Advantages of the NSO ordering system

The final aim is for the whole of the Italian Public Administration to give up working with paper and adopt a system that transforms the processes to make them more efficient, instantaneous and traceable. These advantages for companies and suppliers can achieve automation of the purchase cycle process and savings on time and costs, allowing them to channel their resources towards tasks that require human intervention.

For the Ministry, the main advantage lies in checking, practically in real time, that what is invoiced is what has been ordered, while also monitoring public expenditure.

e-Procurement is making headway in the European Union

In the international scope, we should highlight the European Union’s backing for the development of e-Procurement. In less than a year's time, public bodies in all Member States most allow all procurement processes to be electronic. Once again, the link between healthcare and the Public Administration will be crucial in promoting paperless working by businesses in the sector. The system enables us to meet these major challenges quickly: enhanced security, more agility and a fluid communication between heterogeneous partners, thanks to the use of standards.

The British Department of Health (NHS) is also moving forward with its NHS e-procurement strategy. Medical device companies have been the first in a staggered rollout to begin shipping and receiving orders and invoices. Next year, it will be mandatory for pharmaceutical companies and laboratories. The NHS strategy applies the GS1 and PEPPOL to ensure efficient interoperability throughout the supply chain.

If you would like to know more about implementation of this technological quantum leap, download our White Paper on NHS e-Procurement Strategy.

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