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GS1 – The global language of business

Tedious, time-consuming and uncertain

Think about it. The many hours a week your team spends manually entering product codes and data into the system when new supplies are received… Does each person enter the data in the exact same format? Are you 100% certain there are no errors in the entries? How long does it take to physically check what items will expire first and which to use next? If you could automatically assign products to patient records how much time could you save?

So many questions that could be instantly confirmed at the scan of a GS1 label. 

GS1 – What is it exactly?

GS1 is a worldwide not-for-profit organisation that regulates and standardises global business communications. Barcodes and radio frequency identification tags are used to capture information about products, assets and locations, which are shared via an Electronic Data Interchange. The instant flow of predetermined information provides clear and uniform data exchanges between those in business together. The results of which greatly benefit the businesses involved. 

A global language

Previously traceability of medical devices and supplies has been poor in healthcare facilities. Barcodes were being used around the world, however, a system was needed that could communicate unanimously outside of singular hospitals, departments or countries. In order to become ‘The Global Language of Business’ GS1 complied with ISO standards, ensuring the system could be rolled out easily anywhere in the world.

Adopting GS1 in healthcare unites supply chain stakeholders like manufacturers, distributors, healthcare providers, solution providers, regulatory bodies and industry associations. By doing so, experts and influencers in the industry can easily collaborate to improve patient safety and supply chain efficiencies.

Data flow in healthcare

The most common method of data transfer in the healthcare industry is via a Data Matrix, a two-dimensional barcode made up of black and white cells in either a square or rectangular shape. The matrix holds text or numeric data and is popular in healthcare since it can house a vast amount of information while taking up a small space. Perfect for small fiddly medical supplies. The Data Matrix can either be applied to a product label or etched onto the product itself.

How will GS1 change things in your dental clinic?

Upon receiving products featuring GS1 barcodes, you would simply scan the Data Matrix to obtain the product data. Scanning the label picks up the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and uploads the UDI production identifiers that have been encoded. Vital information such as the expiry date, batch/lot, serial number and production date, along with other helpful information like the purchase order number and date of receipt would be instantly available in your inventory system.

Once received into stock, whenever an item is to be used on a patient a quick scan of the label prior to procedure will assign it to the patients record. If products are allocated to a location/room’s inventory upon receipt, it is also easy to locate them and identify expiration details. This all means you can now track items from the point-of-receipt to the point-of-care.

Barely scraping the surface and already it’s becoming clear how GS1 will make clinic life easier day to day. It’s no secret how tricky stock management and precise ordering can be. An effortlessly tight run inventory would reduce purchased stock waste, help you keep within budget and ensure supplies are stocked so you don’t have to share between surgeries again. Correct data entries guaranteed every time? We all know accurate record keeping is the best defence if something does go wrong.

Keep reading to see how else GS1 can help the healthcare industry.

What are the benefits?

Introducing GS1 barcode scanning to inventory management processes has been proven to provide a multitude of benefits to healthcare facilities such as: 

  • Minimal opportunity for human error
  • Increased productivity and quality of work
  • Immediate and exact information collected at each stage of the product lifecycle
  • Improved communication between trading partners and throughout the supply chain
  • Electronic administration allowing for more time to focus on other tasks
  • Cost savings from accurate management of inventory reducing the likelihood of wasted products from expiry
  • The ability to automate orders that are triggered by usage rate and stock levels. Items are always available for procedures, reducing cancellations and delays
  • More accurate procedure cost calculations since everything and everyone involved can now be identified
  • Compliance with legal and regulatory obligations to trace and recall products. In the case of a recall, patients potentially impacted and items still in inventory are promptly recognised
  • Should contamination occur, products can be traced to the point of incident. The area of contamination, persons or equipment responsible swiftly identified

The shift to an electronic scanning and inventory management may seem like a daunting prospect initially, but the results are clearly worthwhile. All the above ensure a disciplined, quick and efficient process that helps to improve patient safety and potentially save lives in a recall or adverse event. For these reasons, regulatory bodies worldwide are authorising the implementation of GS1 standards.

How will Single Use Dental Instruments adopt GS1?

We are currently rolling out the application of GS1 Data Matrix labels to our entire Single Use Dental Instrument range. You will start to notice these on our shipping cartons, instrument boxes and individual sleeves. Our manufacturing team are working hard to ensure the data encoded into these labels conforms to standards and provides your clinic with everything you need to know.  

Once your clinic is equipped to adopt the GS1 system, your team can instantly begin capturing the data of Single Use products. Our instruments and kits are provided Data Matrix labels at the point of manufacture so do not require your team to manually apply them. Unlike devices and supplies with a lengthier life span that are already in circulation in the clinic. 

If you would like to find out more about how you can adopt GS1 standards in your clinic, read more on the GS1 Australia website here or contact the team directly at Customer.Service@gs1au.org

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