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As healthcare continues to become increasingly digitised, there is a need to for the entire health system to view all processes within the flow of products not in isolation, but instead as parts of the same, connected value chain. To support this continuous flow, the availability of and reliance upon interoperable, consistent and quality data is critical. Recreating product data in a multitude of formats and not leveraging consistent data standards is a non-value add for the sector.
The use cases below have been developed with representation from the Australian Healthcare sector to illustrate the broad requirements of product item master data across organisations and processes within the sector.
All use cases outlined are supported within the National Product Catalogue (NPC) to meet the data needs of the Australian healthcare sector.
Summary of use cases
NPC in Healthcare
Generally, tender data is collected by different buyers / jurisdictions using different mechanisms. This may be proprietary spreadsheets or in hard copy format. The lack of clear direction and inconsistency in instruction creates inefficiencies for suppliers in collating the required data, leading to lower quality tender submissions and impacting the inability for buyers to undertake efficient comparison of supplier responses, update operational systems with critical contract data and ultimately source the appropriate products at the appropriate pack size.
Data highlighted within this use case is used to support the Tender process, General Sourcing (for contract and non-contracted items) and to ensure core data is available for reference within contracts.
Data provided within the NPC flagged within this use case should be used for responding to Tenders and providing basic information required for contracts.
Sourcing, maintaining and capturing the necessary item information in an accurate, timely, consistent and reliable manner allows an organisation to set up an item master and/or catalogue the item so that it can be used across all relevant healthcare systems that utilise item data.
By capturing the information once, from a reliable source such as the NPC, and storing within a central source of truth such as an ERP, then feeding this clean data to all necessary operational systems, the healthcare provider can reduce administration effort, reduce item errors through improving accuracy and timeliness and allow item data to be shared across clinical and non-clinical systems to support healthcare delivery.
Very often customers do not have complete or the latest information available to place product orders. The NPC is often used to provide & update information about products, their order units, their reimbursement codes, their prices and other important attributes that need to be maintained to ensure efficient processes.
The NPC also provides the mechanism for suppliers to provide updates to all customers of key item data changes and manage agreed price changes for customers.
Where all products are published/visible to all recipients it allows for easy market scanning for ‘like’ products where substitution is necessary.
Consistent, quality data and data capture enable some process automation – such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
Often invoice payment is delayed due to lack of accuracy in the order price quoted versus the invoice price returned. This impacts on both buyers, who must undertake inefficient rework to address the issue, and suppliers, who experience cash flow impacts as a result of delayed payment processes. Alternatively, there is often inaccuracy between the price quoted in the buyer purchase order and the price in the supplier system.
One of the key functions of the NPC is to provide accurate pricing information to allow exchange of that information between trading partners to support faster invoice matching with purchase orders and therefore payment.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Unlike Item Master data in the Item record, pricing that is shared via NPC is private data so is only visible to a suppliers chosen trading partner.
Consistent, quality data and data capture enable some process automation – such as automated payments and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
Reimbursement codes and whether products qualify to be included within a program such as PBS or PRC may change over time either as the lists change or as products are added or removed for other reasons.
There is a need to identify the correct codes for specific products at level of packaging related to use to ensure that the process to account for these products is seamless.
The NPC provides an effective mechanism to ensure that products have the correct reimbursement codes on an ongoing basis and can automate the process to update codes as the listed products or codes associated with them change over time.
The publication of this information should remove some of the burden on customer service teams in suppliers to provide codes on an adhoc basis.
Consistent, quality data and data capture enables some process automation – such as the management of prosthesis rebates or pharmaceutical benefits scheme reimbursements or claims.
Often a supplier will gain regulatory authority to sell a range of pack size combinations and formations of a particular product within a given market. Generally, not all of these regulated / authorised pack sizes and formations are released in that market. It is important for the regulatory authority (or others) to have a record of the pack sizes and formations actually being sold in a market for recall and traceability purposes and it is important to any buyer that the products that they are sourcing are authorised appropriately.
By matching the regulatory approval to the physical product within the item data it also enables improvements to many other processes where the physical and digital world meet within healthcare.
Ensure safer handling and storage of all products throughout end-to-end supply chain from manufacturer, through distribution to health service and patient/consumer. Supporting optimisation of storage and transport to ensure efficiency, waste control, dangerous goods management, correct storage and patient safety rely heavily upon accurate data.
Data from NPC can be used to provide accurate information for the management of logistics related tasks. With standard unique identifiers in place, administration and dispensing points, distributors and manufacturers will be able to exchange medical device or medication usage, location and product availability information. This in turn supports data analysis for inventory optimisation while also improving medication and device availability across the supply chain.
Consistent, quality data and data capture enable some process automation and greater aggregation and sharing of data between partners along the value chain.
There is a need to understand the pack configurations, relationships and weights / dimensions of all products to ensure that their warehouse operations and distribution/re-distribution processes are seamless and cost effective.
Accurate data means that the distribution channel functions effectively throughout both inbound and outbound activities.
Consistent, quality data and data capture enable some process automation and greater data analytics capability to support the distribution channel planning and operations.
Unique Identification and related data captured can be used to support regulatory compliance (local and in other countries) as well as supporting improved patient safety and business processes.
A single, global system of standards and a reliable mechanism to provide product data is fundamental to enable an efficient and effective implementation of unique identification by all stakeholders – including regulators.
By using a GDSN connection such as the NPC, in many cases product data can flow from the manufacturer’s internal database to their regulators, health providers/recipients, distributors and other organisations where consistent, standardised and accurate data is needed all via a single mechanism.
The data attributes defined for Unique identification of products that can then be used to ensure accuracy in areas such as patient records, inventory management, recall processes as well as support analytics needed to support ongoing health process improvement.
Some markets are using Data Pools like the NPC to register data as an efficient mechanism and trusted source of data for multiple Unique Device Identification (UDI) databases with regulators. As at May 2022 this is being considered by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as an option for the future AusUDID.
NOTE: enablement of data capture to fully maximise the benefits of unique identification requires an investment by manufacturers, healthcare providers and other organisations. It also requires their chosen technology solutions to be capable of utilising unique identification and product hierarchies based on global standards.
Supporting greater medication safety by improving data and processes through data capture/scanning is regularly highlighted as a critical need within healthcare globally.
The data highlighted within this use case supports the capturing the unique product identification (e.g. scanning a barcode), validation at the point of medicine (medication) dispensing, and validation during administration process by either clinician or patient.
Ensuring accurate and consistent data within all pharmaceutical product databases provides the foundations for safety and helps ensure traceability in final stage of the pharmacy supply chain – at the patient.
Within hospitals ensuring that the unique identification of the product is captured at dispensing and at administration along with patient identification and care provider identification is important to ensure quality and safe processes.
Consistent, quality data and data capture enable some process automation but most importantly can be directly linked to the elimination of ‘never events’ and other patient safety improvements that result from electronic medication management.
Ensuring complete and accurate data related to a product is present in all systems is critical to ensuring that when the unique product identification is captured at point of care (e.g. scanning a barcode) validated data related to medical product usage (eg theatre procedures) can be recorded.
This process requires accurate data to be in the associated product database. Ensuring that the unique identification is captured at usage along with patient identification and care provider identification is also important to ensure quality and safe processes as well as accuracy of patient records. This use case intersects with post market surveillance which relies on accurate association of products to patients within clinical process.
Use of unique identifiers (GTIN) in conjunction with medical devices and capturing this data throughout the supply chain including point of care, supports more streamlined recall processes. Accurate accounting of products also supports better financial management and a more effective management of inventory.
Data associated with each unique identifier/device and capturing throughout all processes make it possible to determine the level of stock at each stage of the supply chain and compare this to the device’s risk category, shelf life and demand urgency to make informed decisions whether to accelerate or pause manufacturing, facilitate the faster movement of goods along the supply chain, or reallocate stock to a more appropriate location based on demand.
Consistent, quality data and data capture enable some process automation and greater aggregation and sharing of data/information, including the ability to capture data for longitudinal studies related to products.
Real time visibility of products – and traceability – across the healthcare system in Australia requires the use of consistent, unique product identification to identify what a product is, where it is, or where it has been. The use of unique product identification (GTIN), in conjunction with unique location data (GLN) product core elements to a provide visibility to the location of products within the value chain. By enabling visibility within the value chain the detection, quarantining and removal of impacted medical items when they are subject to a recall or have passed their effective useful life is a more streamlined process.
Ensure consistent data is used across all systems improves the timeliness and effectiveness of recall and disposal processes related to affected products in the supply chain.
Ensuring that specific products are identified consistently within all systems and locations helps to minimise the potential adverse impacts of having the products in circulation.
Consistent, quality data and data capture enable some process automation, especially where quality data and global product identification is used within inventory, warehouse or clinical systems to accurately record actual products.
With the right technology within the health system to support a digital supply chain, automated messages should be able to be issued to automate the process to identify where unused products are and potentially what patients or consumers may have been impacted.
NOTE: enablement of global data standards and data capture are necessary is necessary to enable this use case. There is a requirement for investment in many parts of the healthcare system to ensure that the data needed is available. It also requires technology solutions to be capable of utilising unique identification, product hierarchies and unique locations based on global standards within their platforms.
Standard unique identifiers used to match patients, healthcare professionals and products will reduce errors (e.g. administration of an incorrect product) and can prevent the use of expired or recalled drugs or devices.
Enable product identification to be captured throughout its lifecycle – including at point of care. This ability to know exactly what patient received or used what product supports adverse event reporting, product recalls, longitudinal studies, value-based case and many other areas that rely on accurate data.
Ensuring consistent and accurate data and the availability of unique identification (GTIN) on all products has also been shown to support greater accuracy of clinical records, streamlined reimbursement processes for devices and most importantly can help ensure appropriate use of products where the data is available at point of care.
As a growing need within healthcare that supports ongoing improvements and better system management the ability for transactional or event-based data to be compared, aggregated and analysed based on a core set of attributes and standard identifiers has become a must within Australian healthcare.
Specific uses may include, but are not limited to, spend analysis, product performance/post market surveillance and areas of process improvement, however with increased focus on ‘Value based’ healthcare and therefore Value-Based procurement the focus on data analytics and the availability of normalised data by using standards is ever increasing.
Within health providers or hospitals, the data analytics supported by standardised product data may include the analysis of procurement time, theatre downtime or waste that is generated by the use of specific products.
Future uses may also include areas related to sustainability or other similar topics.
Unplanned events, natural disasters, geopolitical events and global macro external factors reinforce the need for ‘Supply Chain Surety’ to be firmly enabled within the strategic goals of all parties in the end-to-end supply chains across industry sectors. Whilst procurement goals often remain focussed on choosing specific products and suppliers as part of contracted suppliers or supply panels, the changing availability of products within market sectors, faster reaction and sourcing of alternative products became an absolute requirement.
Ensuring that data related to all (or as many as possible) products that are available to Australian health providers are easily visible and searchable helps to improve the speed of this process.