Healthcare Supply Chain Partners Report on GS1 Identification Project

March 26, 2010
A group of 14 early adopters representing major healthcare supply chains has summarized the results of an industry-wide effort to exchange standardized product data using the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).

The GS1 Healthcare US report, “GDSN in Healthcare: Experiences of Early Adopters in the United States” summarizes the experiences of the GDSN Early Adoption Group (EAG). The goal of the group is to support industry-wide adoption and exchange of standardized product data to improve processes, reduce costs and ultimately improve patient safety.

The EAG consists of healthcare providers Premier Health Partners, Sisters of Mercy/ROi and University Community Health; group purchasing organizations Amerinet, Novation and Premier Inc.; manufacturers Baxter International Inc., BD, Church & Dwight, Georgia-Pacific, Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Sage Products Inc. Healthcare distributor Cardinal Health and solution provider DataPros also participated in the industry effort.

“The lessons learned by the early adopters prove that GDSN can function in healthcare and improve existing processes,” says EAG member Dennis Black, director of e-business at BD, a medical technology company. “To succeed with implementation, the healthcare community needs to embrace agreed-upon data attributes and begin using them in internal systems. Most important, the healthcare supply chain needs to begin transacting with GLNs and GTINs.”

The Global Location Number (GLN) for standardized location identification and the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) for product identification are two identification standards being pursued by industry groups as a way to ensure supply chain partners are using identical, up-to-date, reliable product data.

“We often receive incorrect or incomplete product data information from unreliable sources,” explains EAG participant Alex Zimmerman, director of supply chain information at Sisters of Mercy ROi. “Human error is another source of inaccuracy. Problems like these affect our operations in a multitude of ways, ranging from invoice discrepancies and delivery delays to shipments of incorrect product. With GDSN, we found a system capable of eliminating these errors by ensuring that supplier data attributes, direct from the source, are synchronized with ours.”

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