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QE Facilities

QE Facilities is a well-established wholly owned subsidiary company of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, based in the North of England. The company is a separate legal body set up to provide a range of non-clinical Estates and Facilities services.

Due to its ongoing success, QE Facilities has also expanded into a number of exciting projects that are delivering significant savings and efficiencies. In this very difficult economic environment the expanding business is providing a unique alternative to traditional full third party outsourcing.  

QEF deliver a number of real and tangible financial benefits in a way that does not disadvantage the existing Trust employees. QEF has been established on the solid foundations of the NHS and is able to provide a flexible, proactive range of high quality services, modelled on the lines of a commercial organisation.  

A prime example is QEF Pharmacy Services™. The QE Facilities Outpatient Pharmacy provides a range of out-patient dispensary services for speciality medications. All of these services are underpinned by robust NHS IT systems but, where applicable, bolstered by ‘best of breed’ third party software to enhance core functionality.

Against this background, John Welsh (Associate Director of Pharmacy Services at QE Facilities) began examining how the homecare delivery service could be optimised, the primary requirements being accuracy and supply of product to the patient. His investigation of current market offerings highlighted Touchstar Technologies ‘PODStar’ Electronic Proof of Delivery (EPOD) software as a system that was widely used within a number of industry sectors including general and specialist logistics.  

Initial dialogue took place with Touchstar business analysts to develop a detailed scoping document that identified QE’s specific requirements. It was apparent that a high level of integration with existing NHS systems would be required, a stipulation that would have been impossible with a standard ‘off the shelf’ product. Fortunately, one important facet of the PODStar offering is the Evo-link integration product. Designed as a dynamic interface tool, EvoLink can link the PODStar software to almost any other system, enabling the automatic transfer of data from a separate system into the EPOD software. Supporting the population of multiple systems, errors are reduced by the removal of manual re-keying of data. Utilising the power of Evo-link, Touchstar personnel established a secure flow of data between several legacy NHS systems.  

PODStar is employed to optimise the planned delivery of the prescription to the patient at their home or other appropriate location. Confirmed delivery slots are automatically transferred to PODStar from QE’s central database and subsequently released to the drivers as authorised job runs. In parallel, a matching barcode label identification is generated. On delivery, this barcode can be scanned to confirm patient receipt thereby ensuring full traceability of the prescription drugs. 

QEF drivers are equipped with Android smart phones. The Cloud-based PODStar system offers a 'Planning and Optimisation' tool that automates existing manual processes for office-based Pharmacy personnel. The driver’s smart phones are used for both proof of delivery / signature capture and tracking of the driver and vehicle location. Back at the QE Pharmacy, management can view a real-time update on a map showing the fleet position as well as additional data on the job status and driver performance.

John Welsh commented: “We chose to partner with TouchStar Technologies as we believed they would deliver a bespoke system based on our exact requirements. The PODStar system delivers a number of key benefits, including:

  • single point job creation
  • End to end electronic link from point of prescribing, dispensing to receipt of medicines by end user
  • Paperless electronic system for sustainability
  • Scalable operation 

Following a robust trial the PODStar system is now fully ‘live’ and delivering the key benefits. Overall we're very pleased with the system and, as we continue to expand, we look forward to continuing our relationship with TouchStar and contemplating further bespoke enhancements”                                                                     


Touchstar Press Contact: Mike Turner, Group Marketing Manager, Email: mike.turner@touchstar.co.uk  

QE Facilities Contact: John Welsh, Associate Director of Pharmacy Services, Email: johnwelsh2@nhs.net  

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