The IDA Foundation aims to make quality medicines, medically required resources and diagnostic resources accessible at affordable prices to people in developing countries. ‘This provides better access to affordable basic medical care, as we know it here in the Netherlands, including in countries and environments where this is less self-evident’, according to Michiel de Goeje, Director of Quality Affairs at this non-profit organisation. Because this involves medications, medical supplies and equipment that include many complex protocols and procedures in production, sales and distribution, adequate quality management of processes and information is essential. For this reason, the IDA Foundation has joined forces with premium M-Files partner GeONE. The result of this implementation is: control, transparency and compliance.
The IDA Foundation started as a wholesaler in medications in 1972 as a non-profit organisation, because from the start, it was a foundation that aimed to make generic drugs more accessible and more affordable. De Goeje: ‘Our emphasis lies on those countries, regions and organisations where few budgets are available and where access to basic care is under threat or where lack of access is already a reality. Everyone has the right to good health care and thus, access to certain basic medicines, medical supplies and diagnostic equipment is fundamental. The IDA Foundation has as its motto: Bridging the Gap in Access to Medicines. We want to close the gap between access and lack of access and affordability.’
The IDA Foundation employs about 300 people and has a corporate office in Amsterdam. Jihan Jamal, Medical Devices Manager: ‘In total, we already supply more than 3000 products to our customers and partners, mostly non-governmental organisations (NGOs that are independent of Governments), Ministries of Health, wholesalers and small(er) hospitals in developing countries; all aimed at making medicines, medical supplies and equipment affordable and available. It is a highly regulated environment, with many procedures and protocols throughout the supply chain, for all products, (the production of) medications as well as for all stakeholders involved. These strict rules regarding compliance thus also apply to us. In addition to headquarters in Amsterdam, we also have offices in China, India, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo and representatives/agents in over 30 countries. All in all, the people who work for the IDA Foundation represent 21 different nationalities. It is a complex organisation that greatly depends on (sharing of) information and (following of) procedures. Transparency is the key word in our working environment’.
Much has already been standardised in this setting. De Goeje: ‘In order to be able to guarantee the quality of the delivered products, standards must be applied as much as possible. This makes quality control easier and provides more control over providing access to good basic care. The production, sale and distribution of medicines, medical supplies and medical equipment goes hand in hand with much information to be shared, exchanged, checked, verified, approved and recorded. Those parties with whom we collaborate, for example, pharmaceutical manufacturers, suppliers of raw materials and the like, must also meet strict conditions. Add to this that our own people work in different locations and are also becoming increasingly mobile, while information must still be controlled and safely available, and you get a clear impression of the challenge we were facing’.
Many documents, spreadsheets and network drives
Until recently, IDA Foundation employees worked mostly on paper, spreadsheets and much information on network drives, and in multiple systems. Things were relatively well organised, but it became increasingly difficult to maintain required quality standards. Jamal: ‘For certain approval processes, documents were e-mailed over and over again. They had to be printed, signed, scanned and e-mailed back again. This became no longer workable, especially because, as the organisation grew, so did the volumes of information that were involved. Information sharing not only became more difficult, but also more essential. We absolutely wanted to continue to provide guarantees about the quality of our processes and products. Everything has to be clearly verifiable at any time’.
In this context, the IDA Foundation sent out a Request for Information (RfI) asking who in the Enterprise Information Market (EIM-) was willing to accept this challenge.
De Goeje: ‘We listed all of our wishes and requirements that had to be met by a solution and that was quite an extensive list. It had to be a cloud-based solution. Above all, it had to be secure and reliable, transparent, manageable, user-friendly and proven technology, it had to include a good authorisation structure and above all, quality management, including validation/approval, had to be a default functionality. Our Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) form an essential component of our operations. Our request initially resulted in eight providers who responded. From these, we made a pre-selection and we asked four parties to present us with a Proof of Concept. From these, M-Files emerged with the best product and especially GeONE partner appeared to understand what we were talking about. Their knowledge about how we operated, how our processes worked and how quality management in an organisation like ours works, became the decisive factor.’
M-Files fits in with the IDA Foundation structure
Jamal: ‘The PoC demonstration showed that GeONE had understood the brief and that M-Files met our needs and requirements. This solution fits in perfectly with the structure of the IDA Foundation. For example, it also seamlessly fits into our ERP system, without ‘hard’ integration being required. However, we did need to spend some time on naming and coding of documents in M-Files for example, to make them correspond to ours. After all, we did create a system for this which may not be as standard in other environments, but we specifically wanted to continue this in M-Files. Once everything is in the system, we will have included about 5000 documents with information about or related to SOPs, instructions, certifications, partners, suppliers, etc. Everything will be digital, at the touch of a button and accessible to anyone who has to use it’.
The main advantage of working with M-Files for the IDA Foundation is it provides a good grip on processes and information. De Goeje: ‘There is total traceability of information, processes, productions, deliveries etc. At any time, we can show and have insight into what has happened with what information and by whom. Information has also become more accessible, even if people are away from the office. The ‘active users’ and ‘viewers’ in M-Files automatically receive notification when it is time to review certain licenses, certificates, agreements, contracts etc. This is annually for some and three-yearly for others, but we no longer need to feel under pressure about if we are missing something. M-Files offers IDA Foundation total control of process and information management’. In addition to quality improvement, time savings are also a significant advantage for the IDA Foundation, according to Jamal: ‘When you consider that we used to have and shared a lot of information on paper, you will understand that things are now many times more efficient and more effective now that information is available anywhere it is needed’.
De Goeje: ‘Of course there are ideas for a further roll-out of M-Files to other sections of the organisation such as HR, but we want to take advantage of what we have now first. We have just started and by the end of the year, all of our information should be in M-Files. Then it will be time to see if and where we can use our M-Files even more effectively to improve the quality of our processes and information flows’.
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