With rapidly evolving and disruptive technological advancements, reduced barriers to entry and a methodological shift from treatment to prevention, the pharmaceutical market is evolving at pace. And, with increased pressure on the industry since the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies have had to renew their focus, form new partnerships and accelerate new products to market rapidly.
Solidsoft Reply is a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider with 30 years of experience in developing custom business applications as well as developing cloud-based solutions to integrate unconnected systems and automate business processes to help healthcare businesses thrive.
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Healthcare and pharma challenges
“At Solidsoft Reply, we’re doing an increasing amount of work with the NHS. Currently, in the UK and many other countries, the management of controlled drugs is still being done on paper. Busy clinicians, nurses and pharmacy staff are filling out paper-based administration records and drug orders. So, the challenges are human-specific to the frontline staff providing patient treatment. If you spend any time on a ward, certainly in the NHS, it’s chaos. Managed chaos indeed, but it’s really busy with a lot of people trying to fit a lot of work into a small amount of time. Introducing digital transformation into that environment is not straightforward. It has to be thought through very carefully,” said Charles Young from Solidsoft Reply.
To tackle this, the company has built a controlled drug administration system that goes live this year, with the aim of introducing digital transformation in this area. And, as it stands, they’re one of the first to go to market with this approach.
“We took a lot of advice from an external consulting company who worked with us on what it takes to work in the NHS. The biggest thing they highlighted was the need to allow clinicians to guide us through the design of software that would really meet their requirements.” Solidsoft Reply took that very seriously and ensured members of the development team and those involved in the project took every question back to the clinicians to tailor the system to their actual needs. During the process, the team even set up sites where clinicians and real working members of the NHS could experiment with what they building and provide instant feedback.
Retaining patient trust
“We started building the foundation of trust by thinking through some basic but essential stuff, like how the system will be adopted. A good example of this was that we insisted on finding a way to integrate this new system with existing accounts because if we didn’t do that, we’d be adding a whole level of unfamiliar management and account management for thousands of people. And so, integrating that helped to establish our credentials because they saw the sense of what we were doing,” Young says.
And while, technically, that integration was relatively basic, it led the Solidsoft Reply team to discover a few issues, as raised by members of the Trust they were working for. It transpired nobody had done this before and no-one had realised there was a ready-made Cloud-based active directory the system could integrate with. “Our jaws dropped at that stage because, from a technical point of view, we thought surely everybody is competing in that space.”
And that trust continued to grow through the co-design of the system as a dedicated core group of people within the Trust could go straight to the site and give the development team straightforward, immediate feedback. That instant feedback helped them fix problems at the source and, in turn, build trust with clinicians because they could tailor the system to work for them. So, when it came to delivery, that core group of people, who really believed in the product, spread the word.
“In terms of the application itself, we found clinicians don’t really care whether it’s on the Cloud or not: they just want something straightforward.” What the Cloud enabled Solidsoft Reply to do, with minimum fuss, is deliver their functionality anywhere and across all hospitals. It’s also a browser-based application, and all the complexity is hidden away. Nobody needs to install any software; they can just walk up to a machine, be it a desktop, iPad or whatever, go to their favourite browser, and there it is.
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Innovating with Azure
“Choices are really important in technology because our technical architects need to make decisions that, at a nuanced level, fit the technology to the requirements in the best possible way. I rate Azure because of the amount of choice you have on the platform; I think it’s the best platform for choice.”
“Twenty years ago, Microsoft had very specialised integration tooling, which we became real experts in. And when Azure came in, we got very stuck into that side of things. It’s always been a bit different to other platforms because Microsoft really concentrates on supporting a wider ecosystem. So, it’s an integration platform. And, even though it doesn’t bill itself as an integration platform, I think it’s second to none for integration because of the range of integration approaches and pattern choices it offers.”
Recognition for community response
“For over twenty years, we’d been a Gold Partner of Microsoft, and we benefitted hugely from that. But then, due to our focus on critical delivery of European verification systems and changes to how the Microsoft partnership works, our relationship with Microsoft changed. So, what’s really happened over the last couple of years is, under the auspices of Reply, we’ve really taken over managing the partnership with Microsoft again, and we’ve reemerged and rediscovered the glories of the partnership.”
But for the organisation, this year has been very much about social impact and a community-based approach. On the medical verification side, they’ve been working with UNICEF, which is leading a consortium of various donors and NGOs, all of which are part of the delivery of medicine verification to low-middle-income countries. And, as a result of that work, Solidsoft Reply was recognised as a ‘Finalist of 2023 Microsoft Community Response Partner of the year’.
The value of a cloud integrator
“Firstly, when it comes to integration (and by integration we mean system level and enterprise application integration), we have a long history in this field. I joined the company in 2003, and we were specifically focusing on integration at that particular time.” The company has decades of technical experience (specifically experience of integration on the Microsoft platform) and were even some of the earliest partner organisations specializing in this field as far as Microsoft is concerned. On the healthcare side, they’ve also discovered how to work with clinicians and patients at the cutting edge. This, perhaps, wasn’t a dimension the firm had always championed, but in their recent social impact work and their affiliation with the NHS, they’ve found the very human side. “I dare to call that differentiating because all the feedback that I hear is that there’s not enough of that going on. Frankly, certainly here in the UK, things could improve further on the pharmaceutical side.”
This article was written as part of a paid content campaign with Reply.
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