Health systems target efficiency with GS1 Standards

By Mike Miliard
10:28 AM

Some of the country's most prominent healthcare systems, including Geisinger Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic and Sisters of Mercy Health System, have joined together to adopt GS1 Standards for their supply chains.

GS1 is a not-for-profit association focused on implementing standards to improve the efficiency of supply chains; the GS1 Standards system is the most widely used global supply chain standards system.

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“Together, our healthcare systems are creating a group scorecard to track our suppliers’ adoption of GS1 Standards and we will use this tool in our product decision making process,” says Curtis Dudley, vice president of Integrated Business Solutions, ROi, the supply chain division of Sisters of Mercy Health System. “In today’s environment, providers recognize the need to collaborate and share information. Our collaboration is important to help move our industry forward.”

In 2010, the five healthcare systems formed an action-oriented collaboration to share best practices and accelerate the implementation of GS1 Standards, including Global Location Numbers (GLNs), the 13-digit number used to identify any legal entity/trading partner, and Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), the GS1 System Identification Number that uniquely identifies trade items at all levels of packaging.

“We believe the adoption of these standards is critical to helping our industry drive reform," said Laurel Junk, vice president, supply chain, Kaiser Permanente.

The collaboration, called the Healthcare Transformation Group (HTG), evolved as a logical extension of the member’s individual involvement in healthcare’s movement toward standards adoption.
“For a healthcare provider system, having unique product identifiers is important, as GTINs help ensure the right product is used on a patient while allowing us to track the cost of supplies per patient,” says Cynthia Shumway, manager of systems and information, Intermountain Healthcare. “There is both a clinical benefit and an operational benefit through the adoption of standards.”
The use of standardized product identification such as GTINs ensures the accuracy of product information at every level of packaging throughout the healthcare supply chain from manufacturer to point-of-care. Reliable product data enables more effective product recalls, efficient traceability and improved business processes. Companies can be confident that a GTIN, when used correctly, will uniquely identify their products as they move through the global supply chain to the ultimate end user.
“We want to work with manufacturers who are adopting GTINs,” adds Mark Olson, supply chain analyst, Intermountain Healthcare System. “The standards we are advocating for not only help improve patient safety, but they help our industry better manage supply chains through accurate data and the ability to efficiently share data internally and externally.”
In addition to studying manufacturer adoption of GS1 Standards, the healthcare systems are also reviewing IT suppliers – including Lawson, Epic, Omnicell and PeopleSoft – for their capabilities to support GS1 Standards. The HTG plans to share their experiences and lessons learned with others in the industry through GS1 work groups.
“As an industry, it is time for us all to move forward together in adopting a common language the same way that most evolved industries have adopted,” says Karen Wolfe, finance coordinator, supply chain management, Mayo Clinic. “This is an important step for our healthcare systems as we join together to assess the suppliers we work with and study their commitment to partnering with us through the use of GS1 Standards.”

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“This is an exciting time in healthcare as there is tremendous momentum behind standards implementation for all the right reasons – to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and enhance patient safety,” says Ed Miles, vice president, GS1 Healthcare US. “We believe this collaboration will be a powerful force in our efforts to improve the healthcare supply chain.”