Public Sector Solutions: Parcel Lockers in Healthcare and Education
An efficient way for patients and students to self-serve when collecting medication and parcels
With constant pressure on public services, organisations are turning to technology to automate repetitive manual activities and free up staff time.
In healthcare and education, one area where technology can help is by transforming the way items make it into the hands of patients and students. Healthcare staff routinely deliver medication to inpatients before they are discharged; in higher education settings such as halls of residence and on campus, members of staff take in parcels and contact students to collect their deliveries.
Each interaction takes time, but this can be reduced if patients and students are equipped to self-serve to get their items. This releases staff to instead devote time to activities where they deliver the most value and reduces levels of person-to-person contact.
Healthcare: discharging patients with medication
When inpatients are ready to go home, the aim is for them to be discharged from wards smoothly and quickly. Beds cannot be released while patients are waiting on prescriptions.
Secure lockers provide a way of storing items until they are ready to be collected.
The lockers come in modular units which can be made up of a range of box sizes. A touchscreen interface provides instructions for use.
Delivering medication to the wards is a people-based process that draws on staff resources, and time is a precious commodity. What’s more, patients held on wards longer than they need to be impacts other parts of the hospital such as:
- A&E where patients wait to be admitted
- Car parks where capacity is limited.
Parcel lockers offer an alternative way of getting medication to patients, maximising efficiency, reducing the time staff must spend on the activity and helping reserve person-to-person contact for when it is clinically necessary.
Higher Education: managing a rising tide of parcels
Students ordering items online often have their parcels delivered to their university or halls of residence. Typically, deliveries will go to a post room or mail storage area where a member of staff will record the items and store all parcels until the students come to collect.
It’s a process that will be under increasing pressure due to continued growth in online shopping generating higher volumes of parcels. The manual, people-based processes involved in getting items to students don’t scale to accommodate increased demand unless more resource can be assigned, and often this isn’t possible.
Neither do the challenges of parcel management stop there. There can also be issues with:
- Storage - space is often at a premium and there may be nowhere suitable to store parcels or ensure they are kept securely. Parcels kept in communal areas can be a trip hazard, look messy and may go missing
- Security – once parcels have been delivered, how are they kept secure? A policy of trust can be fraught with difficulties as parcels can get lost or be stolen, leading to conflict
- Communication – notifying and chasing up students to collect parcels can be time-consuming and inefficient for staff, particularly if multiple attempts have to be made for a parcel to be collected
- Traceability – manual, paper-based records are prone to error and paperwork can go missing. It may be difficult to identify where a parcel is, and more time can be wasted trying to track a delivery down
- Data protection - unclaimed parcels containing personal information present data protection concerns.
Added to this, parcel collection points potentially create gatherings of students and in-person contact when staff have to hand over items. Automating parcel storage and collection can streamline the activity and help reduce contact.
Secure lockers provide ideal collection points
In healthcare and education, secure parcel lockers provide an alternative to person-to-person contact when patients need to be given medication and when students collect delivered parcels.
It’s a self-serve system saving time, reducing contact and improving convenience. Students can collect at times that suit as they aren’t restricted to post room/collection point opening times. Patients can leave wards, collecting medication on their way out or at a later time.
How do lockers work?
1. The item is delivered into a locker
2. An automatic electronic notification is generated and sent to the intended recipient. It contains a unique PIN and barcode
3. At the locker the patient/student enters the PIN or scans the barcode
4. The relevant locker door is triggered to open and the patient/student collects their item.
For further information
Visit quadient.co.uk for information on parcel locker solutions
Find out how The University of Northampton transformed parcel management at quadient.com/en-GB/resources/university-of-northampton