NHS organisations should reconsider their financial processes, including the benefits of eInvoicing, following the Government’s recent comprehensive spending review. This is the advice from leading business applications and services provider, Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced).
The review confirmed Chancellor George Osborne’s plans to increase NHS funding by £8.4 billion by 2021 in addition to a £3.8 billion funding injection in 2016-17. Although a welcome boost, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and NHS Trusts still face the daunting task of having to realise £22bn of efficiencies and become paperless by 2018.
Nick Wilson, Managing Director, Advanced Business Solutions (Public Sector and Enterprise division), says, “The NHS Supply Chain recorded savings of £15.6m in 2014 by moving to eInvoicing. However, this figure only scratches the surface of what could be achieved if the whole of the NHS and its 200,000 suppliers similarly made the switch.
“Across the EU, adoption has been more widespread within the public sector, in contrast to the UK which is currently lagging behind. However, as many cloud-based invoicing services are now free to access for suppliers, this arguably removes the biggest barrier to eInvoicing taking off.”
Integrated eInvoicing solutions from approved NHS PEPPOL Proof of Technology vendors, such as Cloud Invoicing from Advanced, eliminate the need to manually handle paper. PDF invoices sent to a designated email address are detached via the hosted cloud service which extracts all of the invoice data. This data is then converted into an eInvoice which can be interpreted and validated within a finance system before processing payment.
By removing the burden of time-consuming administration for overstretched finance teams, operating costs are substantially reduced and process efficiency is transformed. In doing so, NHS organisations can improve relationships with their suppliers and negotiate early settlement discounts for prompt payment. Going paperless similarly improves an organisation’s environmental credentials and helps to free-up vital space which can be better utilised.
Wilson comments, “As well as the enormous economic potential, eInvoicing also increases financial visibility and control – an area where the NHS has endured much criticism for some lax procurement procedures - as business rules can be embedded into the technology.
“Achieving transformational change remains a complex and unrelenting task. But the sooner NHS Trusts start the process of moving to eInvoicing, the sooner they can make inroads into unlocking the efficiencies they need to drive investment in other vital areas.”