Do clinicians care about GS1 standards? YES

by Karen Conway, Vice President, Healthcare Value, GHX “

Clinical Advisory Committee (CAC) attending the organization’s 34th


o clinicians care about GS1 stan- dards?” That was the question posed to members of the GS1


Healthcare Conference in Bangkok, Thai- land in late October. The answer was a resounding “yes,” and judging by the re- cord number of physicians in attendance at the conference, standards matter to more than just those serving on the CAC. The conference included the usual pre- sentations about the various regulatory requirements driving standards adoption, such as evolving UDI and pharmaceuti- cal track and trace regulation, as well as sessions on the enablers, such as data and barcode quality. A notable addition were sessions on the role of standards in improving value-based healthcare. Susan Moffat-Bruce, MD, a thoracic sur- geon and executive director of The Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center, led the opening day panel on why physicians care. She explained that doc- tors want to improve patient outcomes, but many are not aware of GS1 standards or the value they provide. That’s why she is taking time from her busy schedule to chair the CAC. Dr. Moffat-Bruce noted how signifi cant variation in care delivery increases medi- cal errors. Standardization, on the other hand, can improve outcomes, but she adds that they must be outcomes that matter to patients. That requires under- standing the entire patient journey and not just what happens in the hospital. In the U.S., Dr. Moffat-Bruce said the federal

government is getting hospitals’ attention by making them increasingly responsible for costs across entire episodes of care through value-based reimbursement programs such as bundled payments. Managing costs and quality at this level demands better data, including tracking which medical devices, instruments and pharmaceuticals are used in patient care, which can be identifi ed through the use of GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs). Transitioning to value-based healthcare requires investments in a delivery infra- structure that supports standardization. Under Dr. Moffatt-Bruce’s leadership, The OSU Wexner Medical Center has begun that journey. She cautions her col- leagues that the return on investment is not immediate and that time is a valuable resource to achieve what her institution has outlined as its strategic objectives for clinical transformation: • Organize care around the patient • Measure quality outcomes, patient satisfaction and effi ciency

• Prepare for new payment models and a consumer-driven market

• Integrate care delivery across separate facilities

• Transform the care delivery model • Build an enabling information technol- ogy platform

In the value-based healthcare track, we explored how GS1 standards can enable patient-centered care across multiple care settings and value-based payment models. When fully implemented, GS1 standards can provide a level of granular- ity around what resources (products and

services) are used by which clinicians, on which types of patients and in which care settings. This data not only helps identify variation but also what works best on which patient populations. Armed with this kind of data, physicians and other clinical leaders can work hand in hand with supply chain and other resources to standardize care on what works best, and then measure the impact on both quality and cost. Then, in the true spirit of continuous quality improvement, the cycle begins again, further enabled by accurate and standardized data. Dr. Moffat-Bruce’s advocacy for stan- dards-driven performance improvement has the backing of the vice-chair of the board of The Ohio State University. The current vice-chair, Timothy P. Smucker, also serves as chairman emeritu s of The J.M. Smucker Company, which his great-grandfather founded more than a century ago. Over the years, the now $8 billion food company has benefi ted from the adoption of GS1 standards, and he believes healthcare can, too. And who’s to question his word? After all, with a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good. HPN

Karen Conway works to advance the role of the supply chain as a critical enabler in the pursuit of a value-based healthcare system. As Vice President, Healthcare Value for Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX), Conway explores how the supply chain and improved data quality and visibility can support under- standing of what increases value for patients and to those organizations that develop and deliver healthcare products and services.


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