How Standardising Healthcare Data Saves Time and Improves Care

The ultimate goal of the healthcare supply chain is to deliver the right materials and information at the right time, in the right quantities and to the right locations so that patients receive quality care. The bottom line is that having the wrong product information, and worse, the wrong product, makes it harder to care for patients. Accurate data is critical.

Consider the following scenario:

A 70-year-old woman goes to hospital for a hip replacement, the wrong prosthesis turns up and the surgery is delayed. The impact of this is multifaceted. The immediate cost to the patient is increased pain, stress, inconvenience and more financial burden of having to stay in hospital longer. Meanwhile, the hospital faces the costs of repurposing staff time, theatre and bed allocation, additional medication, not to mention the ripple effect onto other patients and families. This is just one instance of the wrong product being ordered or delivered – a scenario that can be avoided with the right data.

National Product Catalogue (NPC)

Working with GS1 Australia, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has introduced the NPC, which provides the ability to store and share accurate, complete and up-to- date information on healthcare products between suppliers and healthcare delivery organisations.

The objective of the NPC is to ensure better overall data integrity throughout the healthcare supply chain sector. The reality is the NPC delivers many more benefits to its users, including:

  • The reduction in order errors and the supply costs associated with invoice reconciliations, credit claims, returns and refused deliveries;

  • The efficient use of clean data for eProcurement; the removal of inefficient paper-based forms and automating the efficient distribution of product information;

  • Secure pricing information available only to nominated trading partners; and

  • Reliable continuity of supply with minimum inventory investment.

The number of NPC users has grown by more than 30 per cent in the past nine months. It currently houses more than 230,000 Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) for over 370 healthcare suppliers.

We anticipate that full implementation of the NPC will save the public healthcare sector at least $AU200 million per annum by ensuring accurate, valid and up-to-date product data, in addition to improved communications and supply chain operations. It is a foundational component for Australia’s transition to an electronic health system.