The Healthcare Hub

Now is the Time to Prove the Value of GS1 Standards in Healthcare

  • Vice President of North American Sales and Marketing Scott Kelley, Vice President of North American Sales and Marketing
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

For many years, the North American healthcare industry has explored the potential advantages of standardizing product and location data using GS1 standards. The general consensus is that data standardization and synchronization can improve clinical and operational performance, but with the exception of a few brave leaders like members of the Healthcare Transformation Group and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System in the U.S., very few organizations have carried out standards implementation to a point where they have been able to document both results and the pathway to achieve them.

To fuel momentum for standards adoption and further expand documentation of value across healthcare, GHX and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have brought together eight leading Canadian healthcare supplier organizations in a collaborative effort to provide real-world evidence of how GS1 standards can drive greater patient safety and improved business outcomes for all healthcare supply chain stakeholders.

The participants are:

  • Alberta Health Services
  • Baxter Corporation
  • Cardinal Health Canada
  • Canadian Hospital Specialties Ltd.
  • Cook Medical, Canada
  • Medtronic
  • Johnson & Johnson Medical Products Inc.

Over the next six months, we will develop a simplified and sustainable leading practice model for synchronization and use of GS1 standards utilizing the GDSN framework that will demonstrate the clinical and business value of standards implementation in healthcare. The results will be published in a white paper so that other provider and supplier organizations can learn from our efforts and replicate this model within their own trading partner relationships.

Although this is a Canadian led initiative, the model and benefits are applicable to the U.S. healthcare industry as well. Despite the difference in healthcare systems, which are primarily limited to who pays for healthcare – primarily single payer in Canada versus a mix of public and private payers in the U.S. – the challenges and opportunities around the use of GS1 standards are similar in both markets — better visibility and less ambiguity into what is being purchased and used in healthcare.

Since we publically announced this initiative on October 21, 2015, healthcare providers and suppliers in both Canada and the U.S. have asked if they too can participate. While we must limit the scope of the initiative to the current stakeholders during this proof of concept phase, there are steps you can take now to prepare for GS1 standards implementation within your own organizations. Providers and suppliers that have not yet joined a GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) certified data pool should join one. Organizations should also register their GS1 Global Location Numbers (GLNs) and Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs). These actions are essential to building the infrastructure required to replicate this model.

GHX is available to help providers and suppliers prepare to implement this model. For more information, contact me at

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Scott Kelley

Vice President of North American Sales and Marketing