The ADF’s management of its pharmaceutical products supply has vastly improved since the late 90s, when inefficient ordering, stock management and reporting procedures had resulted in spiralling costs.
Pharmaceutical Integrated Logistics System (PILS) is developed by Ocean Software, well known for its FlightPro air operations management and scheduling tool, and has played an important role in bringing about efficiencies since 2000, according to the company’s general manager Bruce Moors.
“PILS, now in its third (V3) release, is an intuitive, flexible system that allows pharmacists to manage pharmaceutical medications and consumables from pill to palette,” Moors told ADM.
Moors explained PILS had started as a fairly simple piece of ‘middleware’ to harmonise the various Defence databases across the 38 garrison pharmacies, but over time it has developed into a system of systems.
“It’s now a central repository of information that harmonises and provides visibility and governance across the network.”
Moors said Joint Health Command (JHC) are able to administer centralised procurement and electronic ordering, allowing the ADF to consolidate its purchasing requirements and reduce costs.
“The individual pharmacy holdings also have a synchronised database they can work off providing integration between a number of products within their stockholding; one example of the improved efficiency at that level is on-the-fly stocktakes that don’t require the pharmacy to shut down its operations.”
PILS is also used to manage dental supplies and general medical consumables such as bandages.
“It really manages the procurement chain from purchasing right through to the patient, even down to the pill level, because the ADF doesn’t necessarily issue pills by the packet – in fact it will often dispense one or two pills to patients,” Moors said.
PILS will keep a complete pharmaceutical dispensing history for every ADF member for the duration of their ADF service.
“What this means is if penicillin is dispensed to a member in Darwin, and then later that member is to receive additional medication in another location, say Canberra, the pharmacist will see that information, and be able to advise and warn the member of any interactions that might occur between the medication they are to receive and the penicillin.“
PILS V3 was applied in a recent ADF Deployable Health Trial, and has been deployed on 15 defence laptops in field hospitals and deployable units to fill the gap in personnel health records that occur when soldiers and sailors are sent into the field.
Looking to the future, Moors said Ocean Software is working on a proof of concept that would leverage collaboration software to extend the reach of PILS to ADF doctors and give them a communication mechanism whereby patient records could be more easily shared among themselves as well as stakeholders including pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.
“This would be a very powerful tool for Defence; whose health record management policies can allow for greater sharing of information across the entire network.”
Moors thought the health benefit implications of this could be far-reaching.
“If you can employ more collaboration of doctors, but also of after-care professionals like physiotherapists, then you get an improved healthcare outcome for the patient.”
Moors said Ocean Software was talking to primes with a view to offering PILS as part of a ‘grander solution’ for Project JP2060 Phase 4 (Health Knowledge Management Capability).
“We see PILS as being of value; Defence has spoken at length about a system of systems and they fully understand they are unlikely to find a solution that does everything, that they’ll need to pull together a range of solutions.”
Moors hoped PILS’ Australian pedigree in addition to its recognition of the local standards and naming structures would make it an attractive proposition for any such bid.