GS1 & PEPPOL Standards in Healthcare – The flip side, how ready and how prepared is the industry to react?
While I was away in Brussels at the GS1 Belgilux Forum, LANSA was also sponsoring an event closer to home – the Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI) eProcurement Conference, where the main topic was GS1 & PEPPOL1 standards in UK Healthcare. I entrusted my colleagues to report back to me after the event so I could share with you the key takeaways from the conference.
Exclusive & Focused
Fasken Martenu, ABHI member and leading international business law firm, was the host of this highly popular and oversubscribed conference. LANSA was among three sponsors for the event, all who were positioning vital technology and services that will be utilised by the healthcare industry to support the objectives of the UK Department of Health’s (DH) eProcurement Strategy.
The audience was made up of representatives from the UK’s leading medical device manufacturers and suppliers to the NHS (National Health Service). It was interesting to learn though, that when polled, only around a third of the delegates actually had direct responsibility for ensuring the adoption of GS1 standards to support the eProcurement strategy within their organisation. Conversations throughout the day revealed a very high level of engagement and eagerness to learn, although it was evident that up until now the community has been unaware what is expected of them with regards to the implementation of GS1 standards, PEPPOL, eProcurement or even Unique Device Identification (UDI) compliance.
To further delegates’ learning, each received a copy of our popular White Paper – Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals – The new role of data as the key ingredient of product quality.
Timelines & Expectations
Steve Graham, eProcurement Lead, Department of Health presented an overview of the eProcurement Strategy, including the proposed timescales. A sense of unease was observed as murmurs rippled from the audience when it dawned upon them that there was much work to do. This unease was further evident later in the day when Jenny Gough, UDI & GS1 Specialist at Mölnlycke Health Care, presented an Industry perspective. Jenny stated in her presentation that to fully implement an operational GS1 standards-based barcoding and labelling system it was a 3-year project. I would imagine that this came as both a shock and surprise to those members of the audience who are yet to embark on that journey or even to become a GS1 member.
During the panel discussion manufactures expressed concern over duplication of effort when publishing product data to different NHS Trusts2. It became evident that each Trust is at a different readiness stage. In order to receive product data via the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), Trust systems and processes must be capable of accepting and processing GS1 and GDSN compliant data. In realisation of this it became apparent that manufacturers would have to support both eProcurement processes and traditional processes until all Trusts transition to the GS1 system.
Another pertinent topic was related to the perceived cost of compliance. It is my belief that if NHS eProcurement is observed in isolation and indeed as a compliance issue, then the implementation costs will soon add up to a high cost of doing business with the NHS, with manufacturers seeking ways in which to recoup those investments. If indeed it is viewed this way, manufacturers will be adding up: GS1 Membership, GDSN data pool subscription, PEPPOL access, training and implementation fees.
I think it is vitally important that the community do not see it this way.
It’s Not Just About Compliance
Adopting GS1 standards, using PEPPOL and subscribing to the GDSN offers far more benefits to a manufacturer than just a licence to do business with the NHS. LANSA sees this across the many industries in which we work, and each time we are presented with a compliance scenario we see it as an opportunity for an organisation to achieve so much more, like:
- Improving internal efficiency and productivity
- Improving data quality and reducing rework
- Improving trading relationships
- Winning new customers and opening new markets
- Introducing new products to market quicker
- Gaining a competitive advantage
What Does Success Look Like?
Looking forward to what success looks like, Mark Stevens, Development Manager at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, presented on all the work that has been done in getting the Trust GS1 compliant and ready for eProcurement.
Today the Trust receive 80% of the invoices, orders and shipping notices electronically and the remainder are shipped to a third party to be scanned and entered into the system. Mark cited an example of where items that took 2 weeks to restock can now be replenished in 14 hours. GTINs and barcodes are extensively utilised throughout the hospital. So unlike some hospitals that play lip service to the patient wristbands with Patient IDs and Barcodes, this Trust has a fully implemented system.
The Trust also uses GTINs and scan barcodes in theatre during procedures to record the time taken and what device and equipment has been used. This allows them to look at the overall cost of a procedure. The Consultant can access this data online to see what he is costing the Trust and can even compare it to other similar operations. As a result Consultants are now becoming more cost conscious.
Jason Hale, Department of Health, stepped in to replace Frankie Wallace, eProcurement Specialist Department of Health, who was unfortunately unable to attend the event due to illness. Jason presented on the specific compliance requirements for suppliers, with regards to information flows and product data attributes. Depending on information source, we have seen attribute requirements ranging from as few as 90 up to 128. However, according to the latest guidance notes from the DH, the number is 97, which would be a combination of mandatory, optionally required or optional attributes depending on the item category.
This number will be subject to change, though, as the consultation paper created by the Department of Health is still being finalised. Judith Mellis, Senior Manager, UK Market Affairs, ABHI is currently reviewing the paper and feeding back to the DH.
The Department of Health will be publishing a readiness map for all the NHS Trusts using a simple traffic light system. This readiness map would be used to indicate which Trusts were able to receive item data via the GDSN (Green), which Trust were almost ready (Amber) and those that had not started or had only just started (Red).
It was also suggested during the panel discussion that the ABHI may wish to consider running education sessions on Attributes, GS1 standards and PEPPOL, which we fully support here at LANSA as I personally feel this is a way of addressing the whole “is this just compliance?” concern.
Ending on a High Note
Rachel Hughes, UK & Ireland eCommerce Lead for 3M and chair of ABHI eProcurement Strategy Group, concluded the day with her 5-Point take home for the Industry. This was a very good and entertaining presentation that summed up the day and answered the audience’s question on ‘What are the next steps?’ So it seems fitting to finish this article following Rachel’s good advice:
- Establish ownership and resource the project
- Make that first step – research, read & learn
- Become part of the system – GS1 Membership – GTINs, GLNs & GDSN
- Take ownership of your data – Master Data Management
- Network – Ask questions, speak to the experts
1 PEPPOL – Pan European Public Procurement On Line. Enabling automated, machine-to-machine purchase order and invoice transactions, creating efficiency and quality benefits for all.
2 NHS Trust – An NHS Trust is a legal entity, set up by order of the Secretary of State under section 25 of, and Schedule 4 to, the National Health Service Act 2006, to provide goods and services for the purposes of the national health service.