Perfect Order: A GS1 Healthcare Milestone

 In 101

Perfect Order is a milestone which has just been achieved by the healthcare industry.

Perfect order is when a healthcare supplier and a healthcare provider use the entire GS1 system to complete a transaction, from implementing the Global Location Number and Global Trade Item Number in both the supply chain and the end-user care deliver and business processes to create a totally automated and accurate electronic order processing system.  This is what defines Perfect Order.

Perfect Order: What took so long?

Equally amazing for those of us in other industries is that this is a milestone. The grocery and consumer goods supply chains have been doing this for decades, although one could argue that they don’t face the same degree of item singulation (serialization) or end-user complexity as in health care.

Health care industry experts admit that Perfect Order is a major achievement because the healthcare supply chain has been less-than optimal. The many industry inefficiencies have a lot of contributing factors, not the least of which are decades-old, entrenched manual systems and proprietary product identification systems. It’s painful to give up something that has worked for years, even if it has not worked all that well.

Perfect Order sheds light on the poor condition of the health care supply chain

Another contributing factor to the poor condition of the healthcare industry supply chain has been the reluctance of industry players to collaborate with each other. When collaboration means substantial investments in technology, this can be a further obstacle.

The Perfect Order milestone has been achieved for the first time by a joint effort of BD and Mercy Health System, as reported in a case study entitled Perfect Order and Beyond

.The early metrics are impressive:

  • 30% reduction in accounts payable days outstanding
  • 73% reduction in discrepancies including complete elimination of vendor part number and unit of measure errors through use of GTIN on purchase orders
  • Less calls to customer service
  • Fewer backorders

The healthcare industry has long suffered data errors. BD and Mercy have implemented GS1 standards as a way to build out systemic data problems. The healthcare industry has established December 3, 2012 as the Sunrise date for industry-side adoption f the GS1 standards.

Editors Commentary: This is a very noteworthy and laudable achievement: BD and Mercy are to be congratulated for what they have done. It is to be hoped that others will take notice and follow suit, not just for the return-on-investment but for the healthcare delivery and patient benefits it brings.

Perfect Order increases the importance of barcode quality–and ignores it

But also noteworthy is how Perfect Order brings the importance of the barcode to a new level, and how barcode quality isn’t acknowledged for its new importance.

Perfect Order also makes ever more obvious how the definition of barcode quality has expanded, from simple “legibility” to “validity”. It is no longer sufficient for barcodes to be just ANSI/ISO compliant. Perfect Order dramatically demonstrates that it is also essential that the barcodes used in healthcare be correctly structured and compliant to the GS1 healthcare application standard.


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