How Can Supplier Invoice Processing Save Lives? 

While the primary motivations for implementing supplier invoice automation often revolve around operational efficiency and cost reduction, an often-overlooked benefit is its potential to save lives. 

This becomes particularly significant in contexts like senior living facilities, where the health and safety of residents is of utmost importance.  Let me explain… 

Understanding the Risk of Substitute Products 

In situations where a supplier is out of stock of an ordered item, they may supply an alternative product.  Sometimes this may be done without advising you in advance. 

It is very easy for someone receiving the supplier’s delivery to simply accept the substitute product without questioning it. 

However, although substitute products may appear similar to the original items, they may differ in composition or quality, which in some circumstances can pose significant health risks. 

These risks are especially pronounced in seniors, who may have specific dietary restrictions or sensitivities. For instance, a substituted food product with higher sodium content could be detrimental to residents with hypertension. 

Similarly, nuts may be an ingredient in a substitute product, which if consumed by someone with a severe nut allergy, may cause anaphylactic shock. 

The Role of Supplier Invoice Automation 

Supplier invoice automation involves the use of software to manage and analyze invoices from suppliers. The primary goal is to achieve automated ‘three-way-matching’ where pricing on an invoice is compared to pricing on a purchase order, while quantities invoiced are compared to quantities received. 

If everything matches, the invoice is automatically approved and made available for posting to an Accounting or ERP software package without human intervention. 

This offers significant efficiencies in areas such as speed, accuracy, removal of paper, freeing staff to focus on more productive tasks. Enhanced reporting and many other benefits. 

Detecting Product Substitutions 

A technology like OnePosting that offers 100% accuracy in extracting data from supplier invoices provides a second opportunity to take identify and act on product substitutions. 

The first opportunity is when deliveries are received.  This should be the primary point of detection, but mistakes happen, especially when staff are under pressure to accept and store deliveries, or if there is high staff turnover. 

The second opportunity to detect product substitutions is when an invoice is received and is electronically checked against a purchase order and a receiving transaction. 

If a mismatch is detected between the products ordered and the products invoiced, it can trigger an alert.  This gives the finance team (and optionally the catering team) and opportunity to investigate the discrepancy. 

Standard operating procedures can be implemented that require staff to check the ingredients of the substitute product to ensure it satisfies dietary needs and restrictions. 

With invoices often being received and processed on the day of delivery or the following day, it provides a useful and timely opportunity to flag substitute items before they reach residents. 


Implementing supplier invoice automation is more than a financial tool; it’s a critical component in ensuring the health and safety of residents in senior living communities. 

By detecting potentially harmful substitute products, it plays an indispensable role in maintaining the high standard of care that these communities strive to provide. 

As technology evolves, its potential to safeguard the well-being of seniors will only increase, making it an essential investment for any senior living community. 

Finbarr McCarthy