Kaiser, Mayo press for standard product identifiers to improve patient safety

The Healthcare Transformation Group (HTG), a collaborative comprised of five big healthcare organizations--Geisinger Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, and the St. Louis-based Mercy system--has started using its clout to get suppliers to adopt the GS1 product identification standards. The use of GS1, says HTG, could improve patient safety and supply chain efficiency.

The members of HTG met with their top 20 suppliers earlier this year to discuss how best to move the industry toward GS1 standards adoption. According to Healthcare IT News, the suppliers shared ideas to implement GS1 and asked the provider organizations--which collectively represent over 100 hospitals with $50 billion in annual revenue--which product lines they should focus on first.

Recently, HTG went a step further by identifying its members' top five suppliers across all product lines and asking them to apply GS1 identification codes to their products as soon as possible. HTG also has set up a website to explain what it is doing, and to track GS1 progress by its members' 20 biggest suppliers.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to issue a rule for a unique device identification (UDI) system for medical devices. Device manufacturers will be required to apply UDI numbers to all of their packaging and publish the numbers to an FDA database. HTG wants the FDA to use the GS1 identifiers as the UDIs. The collaborative points out that healthcare organizations will have to make internal system changes to accommodate the UDIs, so they might as well be consistent with other product identifiers.

Standards to identify specific medical products can increase patient safety by allowing providers to pinpoint which products have been used on patients. This can be vital in an emergency, notes Laurel Junk, a supply chain vice president at Kaiser.

To learn more:
- read the Healthcare IT News article
- visit the HTG website