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Supply chain

Hospitals move towards bar-coding products

TORONTO – A majority of Canadian healthcare institutions and their suppliers support moving to a pan-Canadian approach to bar-coding healthcare products as well as sharing administrative data electronically, based on the GS1 System of standards.

According to a survey conducted by Innovative Research Group Inc. (INNOVATIVE), the sector believes that such a unified approach will improve patient safety and generate significant system-wide cost savings.

The survey found 89 percent of healthcare institutions and 75 percent of healthcare suppliers who took part in this study believe that harmonizing healthcare product identification practices as well as inventory management processes using globally-recognized GS1 standards will generate substantial benefits for the Canadian healthcare system.

“At a time when Canadian healthcare budgets are being frozen and governments are working to address chronic deficits, these findings demonstrate that the healthcare sector is ready to embrace a more sustainable, innovative approach to managing the flow of products and related information in the healthcare supply chain,” said Alicia Duval, Senior Vice-President, Healthcare, GS1 Canada.

“A coordinated approach to modernizing the healthcare supply chain through use of globally recognized GS1 standards is a crucial step in improving the way healthcare services in Canada are delivered; ultimately enhancing the quality of patient care.”

The Canadian Healthcare Supply Chain Standards Survey was conducted online polling 294 Canadian healthcare sector stakeholders representing a blend of healthcare institutions, shared services organizations and product suppliers.

The survey is part of the Canadian Healthcare Supply Chain Standards Project, a national initiative spearheaded by GS1 Canada in collaboration with industry and government to facilitate the adoption of a common system of supply chain practices in healthcare. This cross-Canada collaboration will enable the sector to achieve critical cost-savings through the creation of a seamless system for product identification as well as management of related information for billing, inventory and clinical care purposes.

“Healthcare delivery may be managed provincially, but the products we use and the suppliers we interact with come from across Canada and internationally,” said David Loukras, Provincial Director, Performance, Integration & Transformation for the British Columbia Health Authority Shared Services Organization (SSO), and co-chair of GS1 Canada’s Carenet Healthcare Sector Board.

“Coming from a provincial supply chain organization, it is absolutely critical that healthcare institutions and suppliers are speaking the same language when it comes to ordering the products distributed throughout our healthcare facilities, and used in patient care. The GS1 System of standards is the language we all need to be speaking in our healthcare supply chain.”

The Canadian Healthcare Supply Chain Standards Survey was conducted between September 25 and October 23, 2009.

Other key findings included:

• 52% of healthcare institutions and 72% of product suppliers either use or plan to use bar codes in the next two years to capture, store, retrieve and transmit information about medical-surgical products.

• 48% of healthcare providers and 40% of product suppliers have implemented or are currently implementing a strategic initiative to increase interoperability with supply chain partners.

• The leading standard for medical-surgical product identification in the Canadian healthcare sector is the GS1 Global Trade Item Number (commonly recognized as the bar code).

About the Canadian Healthcare Supply Chain Standards Project
The Canadian Healthcare Supply Chain Standards Project (Supply Chain Standards Project) is a national initiative spearheaded by GS1 Canada in collaboration with industry and the governments of Ontario, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to develop and drive national adoption of consistent, global supply chain standards; enabling electronic procurement, interoperability and traceability across the healthcare sector.

About GS1 Canada
GS1 Canada is a member of GS1, the world’s leading supply chain standards organization. As a neutral, not-for-profit organization, GS1 Canada enables its more than 10,000 members – trading partners of all sizes from over 20 sectors across Canada – to enhance their efficiency and cost effectiveness by adopting electronic supply chain best practices. Learn more at

Posted August 12, 2010