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Supply Chain Networks are getting more and more complex due to the number of involved parties and globalized trade relationships. This is also true for the healthcare supply chain among life science companies, wholesalers, healthcare providers and patients, where efficiency is one important means to reduce costs. But much more important is the topic of patient safety, where counterfeiting has to be fought, product recalls have to be handled effectively and efficiently, and medication errors have to be reduced.

SAP standard software can help to achieve these goals through, amongst other characteristics, its compliance to GS1 standards.  

To illustrate this, we decided to develop a prototype which is based on the SAP Object Event Repository (OER).

In this new blog series I will write about GS1 in Healthcare, what we did, how our prototype looks like and, most importantly, the benefits of this solution.

So, let me come back to GS1: everyone talks about or tries to comply with GS1 standards. But what is GS1 and what does it mean for healthcare?

GS1 is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards to improve the efficiency and visibility of supply chains globally and across sectors. One of the focus sectors is healthcare, where general GS1 standards are adopted and adapted for the special needs of this industry.

The GS1 System of Standards includes:

  • GS1 Identification Keys: numbering schemas for products, locations, patients, caregivers, and assets (like Global trade item number (GTIN) or Global location identification (GLN))
  • GS1 BarCodes: several types of bar code, linear and 2-dimensional, for use by GS1 members depending on the application
  • GS1 EPCglobal: supporting the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) [EPC = Electronic Product Code]
  • GS1 GDSN (Global data synchronization network): ensuring global data synchronisation and accurate product data across supply chain partners
  • GS1 eCom: supporting electronic document interchange technologies

Healthcare specific standards already ratified:

  • GTIN Allocation Rules for Healthcare
  • EPCglobal Pedigree Messaging Standard

One of the most recent outcomes of the GS1 activities is the Global Traceability Standard for Healthcare (GTSH) published in early 2009.

This document defines what the process standard for traceability in healthcare encompasses and it shows the corresponding GS1 numbering, automatic identification data capture (AIDC) or data communication standards that must be in place for best practice applications.

This GTSH standard focuses on

  • Traceability for improving patient safety
  • National and/or international legal and regulatory requirements
  • Business and interoperability needs

In addition to this standard, this work group published a GTSH Implementation Guide that aims to assist stakeholders in the global healthcare supply chain with their implementations of traceability systems that conform to GS1 GTSH. 

Both documents and more information are available at GS1 Healthcare Knowledge Centre

Source GS1 healthcare

As mentioned above, this is  my first blog entry in a series on the topic of Secure Tracking and Tracing with SAP OER and SAP Patient Management and compliance with GS1 standards.

In the Secure Tracking and Tracing using GS1 and SAP OER - Leverage GS1 EPCIS in Healthcare – EPISODE II I will describe the scope of our prototype and how the prototype covers the whole supply chain. Here's a sneak preview:

I also will show how a

  • GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)
  • SGTIN (Serialized Global Trade Item Number)
  • GRAI (Global Returnable Asset Identifier)
  • SSCC (Serialized Shipping Container Code)
  • GLN (Global Location Number)

can be used in the real world.

In the meantime I'd love to get your feedback. Is this topic interesting for your business? Do you have similar ideas and/or intentions?

Regards from Walldorf


Bettina (co author) & Stefan

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