Self-developed Medipost IT systems supportreliable medicine delivery
Most of us rarely give the work systems and technologies that we use on a daily basis any thought unless something goes drastically wrong with them.
The Medipost Holdings groupis one organisation where technical issues are a most unlikely occurrence. This is thanks to an internally developed one-of-a-kind technology system,which has recorded only a single incidence of downtime in thelast two years
“Considering that so many South Africans across the nation are reliant onthe group, which includes Medipost Pharmacy, MediLogistics and Kawari Wholesalers,to deliver the chronic and other medicines that are critical to the maintenance of their health on timeevery time, it wasparticularlyimportant that the group’s systems were developed to be as fail-proof as they possibly could be,” says Adrian Swart, who heads up the IT department within the group.
“I think that if you consider our track record, we have done remarkably well in this regard. The company’s highly sophisticated systems, which were all purpose-developed internally over a period of some 12 years in order to meet the exacting needs and requirements of the group and its staff members, have proved to be highly adaptable and thoroughly dependable,” reflects Adrian, who has been with the Medipost group for close on 20 years.
Adrian Swart, head of Medipost Holdings’ IT department, says the group’s systems were developed internally to ensure reliability, as the systems support the delivery of chronic and other medicines through South Africa.
Reflecting on the single incidence of downtime, Adrian said that it had occurred when three air-conditioning systems failed on a particularly hot day, resulting in the servers overheating. The IT team were on to the problem immediately, working through the night and succeeded in restoring the problem within hours.
“We are exceptionally proud of thesoftware suite that we have developed in-house,which is unlike any other in the world. It has not only enabled us to meaningfully support the work of our colleagues, buthas also facilitated access to medicines for so many South Africans over the years, and assistedthemto remain compliant with their treatment regimes.”
Adrian says today the entire business has been developed around this sophisticated IT system into which numerous controls and checks have been built. “Across the group we are all aware that there is no room for issues such as dispensing mistakes and the system therefore has built-in cross-checks to assist staff in getting everything right, every time.”
The system assists Medipost Pharmacy and Kawari Wholesalerstocontrol stock to the value of R300 million per month,andenables the processing of some 350 000 monthly scripts as well as the successful delivery of medicines to every corner of South Africa.An additional 350 000 scripts a month are handled in the Western Caperegion. In addition, the Medipost group’s call centre records the enquiries received via some 60 000 phone calls a month, and enables queries to be easily integrated into the workflow system where necessary.
Adrian, who has considerable experience in programme development,notes that Medipostgroup initiallyinvestigated whether an existing software platform could be adapted, butit was found this would beexceedingly costly and ill suited for the job at hand.
“We consequently decided to develop our own systems, which we did from the ground up, saving some R350 million in the process.
“As the system is completely integrated,everyone in the group, including the staff of Kawari Wholesalersand Medipost Pharmacy, are alwaysworking on the same page. So, those working within the stock system, by way of one example, can see exactly what medicines we have in stock and what may beneeded to meet future requirements.”
The sophisticated system also enables clients to phone the call centre and trackexactly where their order is.
“Staff members are alerted if there was a problem with a delivery to a client, who may not have been home at the time to accept a parcel. We are then able to follow up and ensure that a time can be made so that their medicines can be deliveredto them successfully.We can also inform clients if there may be a co-payment due or if there is some other problem with their prescription.”
Reflecting on the history of Medipost, Adrian recalls how the group grew slowly but surely in the early days: “Starting with just six people we now have a staff of more than 1 850. The group is also very different from an IT perspective: we had six printers in 1999 and now possess some 250. Our department now maintains approximately 1 500 computers and IT systems, and has installed some 25km of cabling to ensure that all are connected.”
Adrian says that many Medipostgroup staff members may not be aware that the dedicated and skilled 35-member IT team are always on hand at the backend in order to ensure that the system runs seamlessly and enables almost every aspect of the companies’ work.
“The team, some of whom have been with the company since its inception, have a determination tobe there for clients and staff members alike, and will always go the extra mileto ensure thatall areprovided with a highly responsive and first-classIT service. I consider it an honour to have the opportunity tointroduce the team and highlight some of the tremendous work we do here,” he concludes.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Medipost Holdings
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone: (011) 469 3016