University of Sydney develops software to streamline the pharmaceutical procurement process for Australian hospitals

University of Sydney develops software to streamline the pharmaceutical procurement process for Australian hospitals

A software program that can significantly
save on the amount spent by Australia’s hospitals, which was currently
estimated at A$ 3 billion a year, was developed by the University of Sydney.
Not only that, but the software can also free up hospital staff for activities
that are more closely related to patient care.

According to the announcement
made by the University of Sydney, the ground-breaking software streamlines the
pharmaceutical purchasing process by replacing the laborious and time consuming
process of selecting the most cost effective pharmaceuticals.

Dr Aldo Saavedra, a Senior Research
Scientist with the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, and Dr Erick Li, a
Senior Lecturer in the Business School’s Discipline of Business Analytics
developed the software together with Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.

The software will remove the manual process
of comparing spreadsheet information on thousands of products with prices that
sometimes vary on a monthly basis.

Westmead Hospital Head Pharmacist Dr David
Ng explained that there are several thousand lines of pharmaceuticals that are
procured and managed across Westmead, and pricing for each is influenced by
market dynamics such as competition, patent expiry, supply chain and government

He added that given the number of product
lines and pricing variances, they needed a decision support tool, especially
since the objective of their pharmaceutical procurement is to guarantee that
essential medicines are always available at the most cost-effective price.

Because of the established business,
technical and analytical expertise of the University of Sydney, as well as its
commitment to the development of the Westmead precinct, Dr Ng and his team
approached the University.

Looking into Westmead’s manual process, Dr
Saavedra and Dr Li discovered a process made highly complex by constantly
changing supplier discounts, government subsidies and competing branded and
generic products.

Dr Li explained how their system is able to
organise all the information from the wholesaler’s price books, quickly run the
data for a particular medication and determine the lowest price on the market.
More importantly, he added, the system can take into consideration the complexity
of the rebate contracts. One estimate puts Westmead’s cost savings at nearly

The University team sees the new system as
an example of how data can be better utilised in hospitals for the benefit of
patients and staff. Dr Saavedra explained that this project was a flagship for
showing how data can be used to improve something very simple as choosing the
best medication. A procurement officer literally sitting there for hours and
comparing excel spreadsheets would be very laborious.

Dr Saavedra and Dr Li said that with some modification,
their procurement software could be installed in any hospital in the country
potentially saving Australian taxpayers many millions of dollars.