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New awareness campaign aims to help organisations prepare for GS1

Recent figures suggest that a third of NHS Trust1 are still not engaged in GS1 despite the Department of Health (DoH) mandate announced in 2014 to use barcoding standards for all Acute Trusts.  To help tackle this issue Omnicell UK, a leading provider of medication and supply management solutions to the global healthcare market, has launched a campaign ‘Ready for GS1?’ to help organisations meet the minimum GS1 Standards required by the DoH for inventory management by 2019/20.

The initial interim report into operational productivity within the NHS by Lord Carter made it clear that hospital efficiency needed to be at a consistently high standard and highlighted the need to embrace innovation and digital technology to ensure continual improvement.  Many hospitals are yet to automate their medical supply and medication processes which means they are holding months of supplies unnecessarily and are unable to automatically reorder new medication/stock or provide an accurate figure of individual patient treatment costs. Hospitals are wasting millions of pounds on supplies they don’t need simply because they don’t know what is being used, where, how and by whom. In addition, outdated manual systems are eating-up valuable clinician and healthcare professional time which could be redirected back into face-to-face patient care.

Such is the scale of the problem that the report predicts that the introduction of the GS1 programme will allow every hospital to on average save a staggering £3 million per year.

The new ‘Ready for GS1’ campaign by Omnicell UK aims to debunk the myths and complexities surrounding the issue and offer practical solutions.

The GS1 mandate is set against an alarming back-drop of scandals and worrying statistics in terms of patient safety and care.  Many of the 50,000 women in the UK who had PIP breast implants were not aware of which devices they had and due to a lack of effective administration there was and still isn’t a way of communicating to all of those patients affected by the faulty implants3.  Access to high quality and reliable data about the performance over the full life of the device or patient is critical to making effective clinical decisions – this is becoming increasingly important as patients are living longer.

The awareness campaign, which aims to ensure GS1 standards are adopted by all hospitals, will include a number of activities such as;

  • Social media campaign using Twitter #readyforGS1
  • Development and distribution of educational materials e.g leaflets, brochures
  • Advertising & educational features in trade media

As part of the campaign programme Omnicell will be working with a number of NHS hospitals to get them up to GS1 standards before sharing best practice from the sites later in the year. One of these hospitals is the University Hospital of North Tees.

Philip Dean, Chief Pharmacist, North Tees & Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust comments:

“We already know from experience that the introduction of Omnicell’s ward based automated technology fundamentally improves medicines management. The addition of GS1 codes will enable the rich flow through of information and integration with other clinical and logistics systems, the benefits are obvious.”

Paul O’Hanlon, Managing Director for Omnicell comments; “GS1 standards need to be in place by 2019/20 and that’s why it’s crucial for all Trusts to be in the process of developing a robust plan. Here at Omnicell, we are best placed to help Trusts to navigate the GS1 process – we have already helped 100 NHS hospitals to save a total of £50 million with our range of solutions. Drawing on 20 years’ experience in ensuring the health of patients through reliable inventory management systems, we know that one system won’t fit every hospital. As such, we can commit a dedicated project team to work with you to design a solution that will fit each individual scenario. We are the only GS1 accredited partner to offer the full range of scanning, cabinet and RFID systems with unrivalled NHS experience.”