Thinking Global and Acting Local

Creating Content Management Solutions that works for everyone in healthcare – from global suppliers to local hospitals

Master Data Management (MDM): The key to an efficient supply chain in healthcare

Master Data Management (MDM), when done well, allows all relevant networks and systems to pull their information from a singular source. The purpose of this is to garner consistency between different systems that share a data source, because after all, systems that don’t speak the same language can’t speak to one another. On top of this, good MDM minimises the administrative burden of maintaining this data. MDM principles have driven GHX’s development of two key solutions, NEXUS and Health ConneXion .

GHX NEXUS – a ‘single source of truth’ content management solution

The purpose of NEXUS is not just to hold data on the products and services that a hospital may wish to buy, but to also create a portal where supplier and provider can interact.


The benefits of collaborating on catalogue and contract data for both sides of the supply chain in healthcare are huge and provide:

  • Validation of products and services ordered, improving order fulfilment and reducing queries.
  • A singular source of truth for all parties, resulting in reduced conflicts and where conflicts do occur, a swifter resolution process.
  • Greater visibility of all shared data, reducing the administrative burden.

However, it is the way that the NEXUS system is structured across three key areas - catalogues, contracts & the repository that enables these benefits to be truly realised.


The catalogues are the sum of data, including purchase price, that is required when ordering, i.e.  the products and their attributes which are needed to link to other systems, or required when being requested at user level. It is possible to hold as many or as few of a supplier’s products as the hospital needs with data as rich or lean as they require. It is also possible for suppliers to manage the data on behalf of the hospital and to share this data with other organisations (where content partnerships exist).


Whilst the catalogues can contain both contract references and pricing, they can only hold one against each item. So, what happens when a price expires or when there is more than one agreement or contract that a product or service can be bought against? The contracts in Nexus allow for a price file to be loaded for every distinct agreement there might be between hospital, supplier and even third parties (e.g. for frameworks). These then intelligently link to the product in the catalogue, giving immediate visibility of all pricing options available.


Whilst allowing a supplier to manage a hospitals’ catalogues on its behalf can be useful, it does have some problems:

  • It decreases the approval steps between supplier loading of data and the hospital’s end user systems utilising this data, potentially increasing the risk of erroneous data affecting clinical procurement.
  • It forces the supplier to load full catalogue data for every NEXUS-using hospital individually.
  • It potentially fills a hospital catalogue with products they do not order or forces the supplier to load different product ranges per hospital.

However, this is where NEXUS really comes into its own. To overcome such issues, the Repository provides a singular entry point for all a supplier’s master data. Everything can be loaded (except purchase price) and is not editable by the hospitals. Most importantly of all, once loaded, this data is available to all NEXUS hospitals immediately. So, a supplier can load part numbers, descriptions, dimensions, categories, GTINs (and other barcodes) and a wealth of data relating to the products and services they provide. By taking advantage of this functionality, the supplier only need manage one master data source and then it is up to the hospital to use it. The purchase pricing is held separately, as this is hospital specific, but since most of a product’s/service’s data is already in the repository this can be a very streamlined data set. With the master data in the repository and pricing options available via the contracts the hospital can then control their own catalogues containing only the products/services they want to purchase, enriched by the repository and linked to supplier loaded contracts.

GDSN: Taking it to the next level and enabling suppliers to think global:

This model of operation may be familiar to some. In the example above the Repository is acting as a GDSN data pool, providing a singular entry point for a supplier to load their master data. The contracts are handled separately to this but within the same network, while the catalogue acts as a Master Data Management System, funnelling the required data in the format necessary for hospitals to purchase using their own systems.

Creating the only GDSN-certified data pool: GHX Health ConneXion


GHX have once again taken things a step further by becoming the first healthcare technology provider in the UK to share live supplier master data via its GDSN-certified data pool, Health ConneXion.  There is a built-in connection between this data pool and NEXUS, meaning that hospitals using NEXUS will automatically have access to any data available within Health ConneXion. 


An example of a global healthcare supplier who have adopted this global approach is Smith & Nephew. They currently manage their data within this data pool, making it immediately available to all NEXUS users. From a hospital perspective the data appears in the Repository, just as it did before. However, from Smith & Nephew’s perspective Health ConneXion has allowed them to move from loading once for the NEXUS hospital community to loading once for the entire market.

At our recent GHX User Forum, Smith & Nephew shared their experience of working with GHX to bring greater efficiencies and cost-effectiveness to bear across their processes.  Future blogs will unpack their experience in more detail and also look at the role of GDSN within the NHS’s evolving Master Data Exchange Service (MDE) and Scan4Safety Initiative.