The Needle Exchange Programme in New Zealand has grown significantly since it first began in 1987. Recently, the Programme’s administering body, the Needle Exchange Services Trust (NEST) moved its business software platform onto Accredo – a change that is helping it better manage inventory and further improving administrative oversight of a much needed public health initiative.
The decision to move to the Accredo platform was motivated by the Programme’s growth and a desire to bring together two separate business functions, which Charles Henderson, National Manager of the Needle Exchange Programme, says were overly labour intensive.
“The distribution of equipment involved in the Needle Exchange Programme involves around 20 different stock items. These are located at multiple depots around the country and serve over 200 different outlets. On one hand we need to constantly monitor the supply and demand of stock, and on the other provide the right sort of oversight and record keeping to satisfy the contractual obligations we have with the Ministry of Health.”
Henderson says prior to Accredo being implemented the Trust struggled to get good visibility of its day-to-day business management functions – such as stock control, income and expenditure. Preparing reports, which are broken down by department and presented in ways unique to each of its stakeholders, was also time-consuming.
When The Trust’s computer services support consultant, Lesley Warrington, of Timeline Services, suggested it implement a new system that offered multi-location inventory control and improved reporting capabilities – in one package, Henderson says he was keen to see what it could do.
“Lesley had the knowledge of what systems were in the market and said Accredo would give us the combination we were looking for. We felt confident that her recommendation was a good one and we decided to move across to Accredo at the start of our new financial year.”
It was a major change for the Trust but one that Henderson says went live on-time and on-budget. “Lesley had done a number of Quickbooks to Accredo conversions and completed the project without any hitches. We were up and running with invoicing on day one.”
Henderson says the Needle Exchange Programme runs both a user pays and a free one-for-one service to supply intravenous drug users with new injection equipment.
“We are unusual from a business point of view having both the free service and user pays processes within one organisation,” says Henderson. “We have to track both processes and need to keep strict records of how much equipment each outlet is distributing and receiving back in the form of used needles and syringes.”
Keeping track of stock used to be a time-consuming monthly task. The Trust would fax out a header form to its outlets asking them to fill in the information and fax it back – a process that could take a day-and-a-half to complete.
“We used to have to operate two fax machines, one for outgoing and one incoming, but now thanks to Accredo we have automated that process.”
It allows the Trust to track the stock accurately and assigns a monetary value against each item. Henderson says this helps him see what is happening in real time and in more detail.
“Using Accredo we are not only improving our business process execution, we are getting more reliable financial information. It has eliminated the complications we had to endure when merging the two sets of data.”
Reporting to stakeholders has also become easier. Henderson can now serve up the information to his Board and the Ministry in exactly the format they need.
“The beauty of Accredo is that you can drill down easily on items that you want to see more information about. It enables you to see things at a more granular level – which means we spot trends or issues earlier than we would have previously. The information is there, you can trust it and you can get to what you need to see quickly.”