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A Supply Chain Reform is the Next (Post-Covid) Step in Healthcare
A Supply Chain Reform is the Next (Post-Covid) Step in Healthcare

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05 May 2021

A Supply Chain Reform is the Next (Post-Covid) Step in Healthcare

“Everyone deserves to be safe. Meeting this challenge depends on all of us”. GS1 Global HC online summit, April 2021

For more than a year now, everybody anywhere has been fighting against Covid-19. Hospitals and caregivers have suffered the most to keep in line with their mission in saving lives and securing better patient outcomes. But how to meet uncertainty and manage several risks that occur daily in such a complex environment while keeping the head-on?


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A more proactive approach is currently shaping the path forward by many healthcare market drivers to create safer hospitals, operational efficiencies, and profound digital transformation no matter the situation around.

Supply Chain Post Covid

Embracing global standards[1], like GS1 as a common language, will surely help to ensure supply chain security, increase patient safety, and provide trust in the vaccines, medicines, and medical products (devices, assets) distributed all around the world.

For example, contact tracing, telehealth, digital transformation and clinical communication with collaborative software and hardware tools are just a few technologies that hospitals had quickly deployed in response to COVID-19. Moreover, some trends with more patient-centric solutions are growing in importance, such as Quantum computing and AI. You can be surprised how they could change drug discovery, diagnostics and patient privacy or advance with digital biomarkers what we call Precision Medicine. Data aggregation & analytics remain a key priority across stakeholders to gain end to end visibility and transparency in hospital logistics and leveraging interoperability as the main driver.


With reference to CB Insights[2] recent report on healthcare for Q1-2021, it was mentioned that the Global digital health funding jumped by 9%. Equity funding to digital health companies reached an all-time high of $9B+ in Q1’21, while deal count increased by nearly 13%.


Following the recent GS1 online global summit and its dedicated session for “hospitals implementing standards”, many spokespersons had revealed their main challenges in logistics management and urgent needs to close two management loopholes:

1) the lack of traceability for drugs and medical consumables/assets

2) the lack of alignment/communication between different departments and suppliers.


For example, billions of vaccines are needed urgently across the world. How can the demand be met quickly, efficiently, and securely? It is fundamental to the success of COVID-19 vaccination efforts that citizens trust the process and feel protected. According to experts, pioneering solutions in hospital logistics should be leveraged jointly with other key elements such as 1) Advancing industry collaboration between all suppliers/3PL  worldwide for each hospital by developing adequate web interfaces, 2) Smart care with global standards to speak the same language such as GS1 and blend all codes into one to link processes between logistics and people care and ensure end to end Trustparency® in the supply chain, then 3) Underlying infrastructure with a secure ICT network and hardware. In fact, some hospitals use cases are considering GLN for manufacturer location, GTIN or UDI for product ID, GSRN for service providers or caregivers, and SRIN for patient information, EPIC /EPCIS for events communication, GDSN for global synchronization and GS1 Digital link for updated useful product information to clinicians or patients. Many are applying clinical use of ICT at the bedside and digital health records (HIMSS EMRAM stage 7). Most are defending their IT infrastructure from ransomware attacks while developing solid data governance and interoperability among all the platforms within by using mobile devices dedicated only to the work environment instead of paper documentation for clinical data input.


Without any doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic made a push to digitalization in hospitals of processes and systems thus the ability to work with standards to make things more efficient is a must. Many hospitals are moving as a first step towards piloting their digital ecosystem to be GS1 compliant in order to build a general know-how about their supply chain management, which is usually very fragmented especially in medical consumables: Each hospital had hundreds of thousands of products and assets providers, different levels of technologies, different ways of operations and understanding. So, a lot of effort is required to do the internal/external alignment and data mapping.


To conclude, hospitals require our help too as solutions providers to improve their logistics management, streamline procurement and in-time delivery while ensuring data integrity, accuracy, and patient safety. All these challenges cannot be tackled without interoperability from suppliers through 3PL to hospitals and caregivers, speaking the same language based on a global standard for communication. We are talking about Track & Trace leveraging GS1 standards and Smart data management for end-to-end real-time visibility and higher efficiency.

[1] Deloitte

[2] URL:


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