Home » Future of Healthcare » Scan4Safety technology helps clinical staff focus more time on patient care

Siobhain Duggan

Director of Innovation and Healthcare, GS1 Ireland

Amanda Creane

Healthcare Manager, GS1 Ireland

Barcode technology can bring numerous advantages to healthcare — but hospitals need the right guidance and support.

The Scan4Safety initiative builds on barcoding standards to offer increased traceability of items such as medical devices, assets and medication right to the point of care. If implemented properly, it will lead to the delivery of better patient care, supply chain efficiency and clinical productivity.

Benefits of barcode technology in hospitals

“Several Irish healthcare organisations are adopting the approach as a way of embedding barcode scanning into their day-to-day processes for traceability and stock management,” says Amanda Creane, Healthcare Manager with GS1 Ireland, not-for-profit traceability standards licensing organisation.

As an adopter, Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) has already seen the benefits. Previously, clinical staff were spending hours managing inventories and re-ordering stock with little visibility into what item was used with which patient.

TUH CEO Lucy Nugent says: “Scan4Safety is demonstrating real benefits by improving patient safety and giving time back to patient care.”

At its core is patient safety and making sure the right product gets to the right patient at the right time.

Amanda Creane

However, it can take time to get Scan4Safety up and running. The linking of the barcodes to existing data can also take time, so we recommend hospitals get started with traceability standards designed-in as it can be costly to do afterwards.

“Clinical buy-in is also key, and the TUH project is an excellent example of clinical leadership which resulted in a very successful implementation,” says Siobhain Duggan, Director of Innovation and Healthcare with GS1 Ireland.

Success and challenges of traceability

With traceability, the barcode technology can minimise lags and mistakes — and frees up time for healthcare professionals to make faster, data-driven decisions for patient care as they spend less time on administrative tasks.

Amanda Creane says: “At its core is patient safety and making sure the right product gets to the right patient at the right time.”

Moreover, it offers transparency and enables sustainability by reducing waste of medical materials as staff can easily keep track of them.

Why traceability is important

From a regulatory perspective, all medicines must have traceability details including expiry dates and serial numbers, Similarly, all devices need Unique Device Identification (UDI). With all this data to keep track of, GS1 is supporting the Scan4Safety programme to provide healthcare providers with the right traceability standards.

Siobhain Duggan adds: “Captured information is integrated into core end-patient systems. Linking items to patients comes with patient safety and efficiency benefits and in the event of a product recall, all information is accessible at the click of a button.”

GS1 Ireland offers support to healthcare providers getting started on Scan4Safety. It is the only authorised source for barcode numbers and standards and advises both industry and healthcare providers on the implementation of the standards.

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