For some, innovation and standardization may seem to be complete opposites from one another, however when applied to the realm of supply chain management within healthcare you’ll see the two compliment one another. The opportunity to innovate within the healthcare supply chain lies in the ability to adopt standards and create systemic approaches to identify and classify medical devices and supplies used within a healthcare organization. A highly disparate situation today, the most progressive (and endorsed) standard is the GS1 standard for product identification. A deep dive on GS1 standards can be found here.
In recent months, many stakeholders in healthcare delivery have come forward endorsing adoption of the GS1 standard – healthcare providers, GPOs, vendors, distributors, and more. Specific to healthcare providers, adopting this standard within the healthcare supply chain is critical in allowing them to innovate and drive performance improvement. Specific opportunities include:
- Improved Outcomes: Through data standards, care providers can more effectively measure performance, benchmark, and ultimately make more educated decisions on the use of supplies and devices. In addition, a systemized approach can be deployed to efficiently and accurately deal with product recalls.
- Cost Control: The ability to control costs will improve as care providers can see improvements streamlining procurement cycles, optimizing inventory, and avoiding expiration. In addition, resource requirements will be lowered as standardization will reduce the need to manage and align disparate systems and process. A perfect example – think of the resources involved to build and synchronize item/product masters in various systems such as MMIS, ORMIS, CVIS, and others.
- Harmonization: To steal a term from the ARRA, there is ample opportunity to make the relationships between supply chain management and clinical departments better and create improved organizational harmonization. Getting on the same page to optimize supply chain management will be invaluable. An example of current sources of friction – think about the various ways to describe a Drug Eluting Stent. Cardiology will describe it in their language and it may be non-translatable to Supply Chain. Now, couple that with Catalog Numbers that may change randomly at a vendor’s discretion. At times this can create disorientation between the clinical department and supply chain based on the inability to find some common ground amidst an environment of change. With a foundation of a standardized classification system, it can improve a service approach by materials management and the clinical departments.
The GS1 standards will materialize themselves at the point-of-care in various formats – printed information, barcodes, RFID tags, and more. Those issues are clearly secondary however, as getting to the point-of-care without standardization will only result in continued problems.