April 12, 2021

Providing self-serve solutions in the public sector for patients and students

In healthcare and education staff are routinely called upon to get items into the hands of patients and students. Consider hospitals discharging patients with medication; post rooms on campus sites taking in parcels for students. Each interaction takes time, but this can be reduced if patients and students can self-serve for their items – freeing up staff and reducing person-to-person contact.


The aim is for inpatients who are ready to go home to be discharged from wards smoothly and quickly. Beds cannot be released when patients are waiting on prescriptions.

Medication leaves the pharmacy and is delivered to the wards. It’s a people-based process that draws on staff resources, and time is a precious commodity. What’s more, unnecessary time that patients spend on wards impacts other parts of the hospital:

  • A&E where patients wait to be admitted
  • Car parks where capacity is limited.

different way of getting medication to patients can maximise efficiency, reduce time spent on the activity and reserve person-to-person contact for when it is clinically necessary.

Higher Education

Universities and halls of residence typically have a post room or mail storage area where parcels destined for students are taken. A member of staff may log and store arrived items and contact students to inform them of their deliveries.

In recent times, this process will have come under greater pressure as rates of online shopping increased, adding to the challenges of parcel management including:

  • Storage space which can be limited
  • Security as parcels can be lost or stolen, leading to conflict
  • Frustration at trying to track down students to collect their items
  • Unclaimed parcels containing personal information that present data protection concerns.

At these times, it is necessary to limit gatherings of people and face-to-face contact, something that is at odds with a collection site where students may queue, and staff hand over items  however, there is an alternative.

Secure lockers provide ideal collection points

In healthcare and education, secure parcel lockers can replace person-to-person contact for patients picking up medication and students collecting delivered items.

Medication and parcels are delivered into the lockers. Patients/students receive an automatic notification with a unique PIN/barcode which they use to access the locker and retrieve their items.

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.

Items are kept securely and can only be retrieved with the unique access details provided to the rightful owner. Traceability is also improved through an electronic audit trail.

Manual, labour-intensive processes often rely on person-to-person contact. This can be inefficient and time-consuming. Through automation, healthcare and education staff can be relieved of repetitive manual tasks, freeing them up to spend more time on activities where they are most valuable.

For public sector organisations, the Postal Goods, Services and Solutions (RM6017) framework includes parcel lockers for solutions across the sector.

For further information, access the paper on secure lockers in healthcare settings and find out how The University of Northampton transformed parcel management.