PEPPOL in the NHS - Understanding its Adoption and Implications
The UK health sector has been required to use PEPPOL, the secure and international electronic business document exchange network, following the publication of the NHS eProcurement Strategy in 2014. After a slow start, there are now more suppliers and hospitals enrolled in the system than ever before, allowing for easy facilitation of invoicing and information exchange.
Having begun its life as an EU initiative, the effectiveness of the PEPPOL network led to the NHS adopting the standardisation for its own systems. PEPPOL — which stands for Pan-European Public Procurement On Line — brings rigid technical specifications that smoothen and standardises electronic business transactions, including, now, all of those related to NHS procurement.
The NHS made this decision due to the various procurement challenges it was facing, the main one being that different trusts were buying their essential products in different ways. Some of those methods were outdated and/or ineffective. PEPPOL aims to eliminate those inconsistencies. As a result, both buyers and sellers within the supply chain can spend less time correcting errors, checking inputs, and manually entering data, allowing for more time spent adding value to their operations.
The Role of the PEPPOL Network in the Modern Healthcare Industry
The digital age has led to an increased emphasis on efficiency and standardisation. In the past, there have been unnecessary challenges in the supply chain between the private and public sectors. The result was that NHS trusts had to spend additional work, time, and money trying to accommodate the various requirements and standards practised by private sector businesses within the UK and across Europe.
The NHS, already facing untold challenges, was continually met with an easy transaction process with some businesses, and difficult transaction processes with others. The standardisation of the document exchange process, plus the ease with which it can be adopted — you set up once, and use it again and again — helps ensure that public sector organisations such as the NHS can streamline their operations.
With NHS procurement becoming more global, there’s a need for a cohesive approach wherever possible. PEPPOL is widely adopted within Europe and, given its success, is growing in popularity in other parts of the world, including Singapore, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, among others.
There are multiple document exchange standardisation systems available, and PEPPOL is one of them. However, it has gained popularity due to its unique combination of simplicity and comprehensiveness. Although it doesn't cover every aspect, it excels in the areas it does cover.
You’ll find that PEPPOL in the NHS standardises the following PEPPOL BIS 3.0 message exchange:
The standardisation of these elements can help organisations individually. But when everyone within the network has the same standards, it leads to a mutually beneficial environment that does away with some of the more frustrating elements of the supply chain.
Navigating the PEPPOL access points
You can’t join the PEPPOL network without an access point. For this, organisations have two options: they can set up their own access point, or they can work with a verified PEPPOL access point provider. Given the complex nature of setting up an individual access point, it’s nearly always best to work with a provider. They already have the system up and running, and there are no downsides to joining an existing network, because, after all, it doesn’t matter how to join the network. There are more than three hundred access points across Europe and the globe, and you just need to be in one of them to connect with everyone else.
The Process and Benefits of PEPPOL Integration
To join the PEPPOL network, you’ll find that it’s easiest to work with a certified PEPPOL Access Point Service Provider such as Supply Lens. But if you thought integration would be complicated, then think again. It’s a straightforward multistep process, and we can guide you along the journey every step of the way.
By integrating with PEPPOL, organisations can automate their supply chain messages and achieve interoperability within the network. However, there are numerous other benefits to joining the network.
For instance, PEPPOL offers significant productivity and efficiency enhancements. The digital-first solution removes the need for manual data entry, which is both prone to errors and also time-consuming. The simplification of the procurement process allows suppliers to streamline their operations and minimise their operational costs.
It can also expand an organisation’s market reach. PEPPOL is already widely adopted across Europe, and more organisations join the network every day. Once part of the network, members find it easier to make new connections — and easier to strengthen their existing relationships.
The network also allows for the facilitation of smooth invoice payments. The reduced processing time allows for invoices to be sent — and paid — as quickly as possible, helping to boost cash flow and make accounts management much more straightforward.
And perhaps more importantly of all, PEPPOL is highly secure. There’s a reduced risk of fraud when everyone who exists within the network has been vetted.
Supply Lens - Getting Started
To join the PEPPOL network, you’ll need to work with a certified PEPPOL partner who is authorised to connect you to the network. This will be your PEPPOL access point, but don’t worry if the other users are connected to a different access point: once you have your access point, you can reach all PEPPOL users.
Supply Lens is a certified PEPPOL Access Point Service Provider. By choosing us, you’ll be able to enjoy all the e-procurement opportunities that the network provides. We’ve made it as easy as possible for NHS organisations and NHS suppliers to join the network. All you need to do is sign up for free, register your organisation, and upload and send documents. We’re proud to offer affordable PEPPOL subscriptions. We also offer a free trial, no fixed-term commitment, and a 30-day cancellation policy, so you can see all that we offer, risk-free.
If you have any questions about joining the PEPPOL network or the other services we offer, then don’t hesitate to get in touch