Bang Chau: Answering the “how” question as GS1 standards are adopted across the NHS
No one doubts that using GS1 data standards on pharmaceuticals and medical devices can lead to improved patient safety and increased supply chain efficiency across the healthcare sector.
In the UK, the Department of Health, NHS Acute Trusts and healthcare suppliers are taking further bold steps in this direction, spurred on by an independent estimate that NHS hospitals can save an average £3,000,000 annually through system-wide use of GS1 standards while also improving patient care. This translates to an expected £1.5 billion in savings across the country.
GS1 standards are now mandatory for the identification and description of any product procured by a trust!
For suppliers, this means ensuring their product catalogues are compliant with GS1 standards, and the data is synchronised with NHS Trusts and other healthcare distributors via GDSN data pools – forming the Global Data Synchronisation Network. These ‘industry catalogue databases’ are built to inter-operate using GS’s GDSN standards.
Trusts and distributors must ensure they are ‘effective data recipients’ from GDSN and enhance their legacy ERP information with the wealth of data that then becomes available from the supplier community.
Everyone knows what needs to be done. The question is how? with greatest efficiency and least cost.
UK’s healthcare sector is ideally placed to benefit from the knowledge and experience gained overseas in answering this question – and indeed, to lead the world in end-to-end use of GS1 standards for data synchronisation for promoting patient safety and supply chain efficiency.
In the Australian healthcare sector for example, GDSN data recipients have successfully used GS1-certified Product Information Management solutions, or PIM systems, to create highly effective interfaces with product suppliers and to integrate product & pricing data with information from the recipients’ own ERP systems.
Symbion, one of Australia’s largest healthcare distributors, began its journey with GDSN in 2009. Today, it has a GS1-certified PIM solution that receives synchronised data from suppliers, and enables this to be enriched with Symbion’s own product details e.g. product descriptions and codes, for republishing in the GDSN format for usability by Australian hospitals who are of course their customers.
Symbion opted to implement a PIM solution rather than trying to build its own interface in order to maintain integration with its suppliers and customers amidst an evolving regulatory and supply chain environment.
The South Australian Department of Health (SA Health) is one of the first State government agencies to implement a GS1-certified PIM solution for synchronising master data ‘end-to-end’ using the National Product Catalogue (NPC) data pool. SA Health oversees 60 hospitals and hundreds of clinics for primary and specialist health services.
The PIM solution enables SA Health to provide procurement and inventory staff with access to rich catalogue data that is sourced automatically from the NPC data pool. The system also feeds “clean and approved” contract-based pricing and item information back into SA Health’s Oracle ABS system to support procurement needs across the State.
It is an example of how GDSN functionality has become increasingly sophisticated with the application of specialist knowledge in PIM and in GS1 standards. Other excellent examples exist in parts of the US and also in New Zealand.
The UK healthcare sector is not new to GS1 standards, and indeed each of the 154 NHS Acute Trusts is a GS1 member. This country is on course to become world leader in e-procurement, bedside verification of medicines and more. The vision is in place, the tools are to hand: It’s how they put together for the greatest effectiveness and least cost that matters now.
GS1-certified PIM solution providers will be on hand at the GS1 UK Healthcare Conference at Heathrow on 12-13 April – a perfectly timed opportunity for decision makers in the trusts, hospitals, healthcare product suppliers and distributors to dive into the “how” of GS1 standards, GDSN data pools and systems integration for patient safety and supply chain efficiency.
Bang Chau is the VP International Business Development at Innovit, a global provider of software solutions for MDM, PIM, GDSN and workflow management within healthcare and other sectors. Innovit has representation in London, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, and is a certified solution provider for GDSN.