Survey Finds Health Care Industry Making Progress Toward Data Standardization

A survey conducted by the University of Arkansas shows that the health care industry is making significant gains toward adopting global data standards for the health care supply chain, but nearly a third of respondents have not started preparations for adopting the standards.

 Researchers at the University of Arkansas Center for Innovation in Healthcare Logistics, working with the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association and the Association for Healthcare Resource and Materials Management, conducted a survey of health care providers, group purchasing organizations, device manufacturers and wholesaler/distributors in order to measure the degree to which the industry was integrating global data standards into the health care supply chain.

The survey found that 68 percent of respondents were moving toward adoption of these standards in the next five years, a nearly two-fold increase from a similar survey conducted two years ago.

The center's survey, administered by industrial engineering faculty members Heather Nachtmann and Edward Pohl, also found that 90 percent of the respondents who were moving toward adoption of a data standards system are implementing GS1 standards, and of these organizations, 51 percent are planning to implement Global Location Numbers by the end of the year. GS1 Healthcare, an international association that has developed a system of standards in order to improve the efficiency of health care supply chains, has called for the adoption of Global Location Numbers by this Dec. 31. These numbers, which contain a location reference, can be used to link products to a physical location, such as a warehouse or shelf in a store, or a legal location, such as a company or customer.

"Globally recognized data standards that are created for entity locations are critical to ensuring patient safety and supply chain efficiencies, and to reducing health care costs," said Curtis Rooney, president of the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association. "On the eve of the GS1 Global Location Number sunrise date, this survey clearly demonstrates that parties to the health care supply chain have made significant progress toward adoption readiness, but also shows that there is still work to be done."

"We hope our survey is a wake-up call for the health care information technology community," said Heather Nachtmann, co-deputy director of the Center for Innovation in Healthcare Logistics. "Access to sufficient IT hardware, software, and personnel is the number one barrier faced by our respondents when working towards GLN adoption. It is the top resource they need to meet future GLN adoption goals."

The Center for Innovation in Healthcare Logistics is a research unit in the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas.



Release date: 12/13/2010