GLNs In Supply Chain Operations
The healthcare supply chain can be highly complex, particularly with products being able to follow multiple routes between the manufacturer or clinical trial sponsor and a hospital or other healthcare facilities, e.g. clinical trial site. Products can be delivered directly to an operating theatre or pharmacy by a supplier or via a combination of the importer, third party logistics provider or distributor. Other healthcare products may have to be delivered to a central warehouse and then to the pharmacy department identified by a GLN, while computer and medical equipment may have to be configured or tested by the IT department before placed into storage or use.
GLNs can be used in such cases to uniquely identify individual delivery points and the final destination of a product. This information can be provided in electronic commerce messages as well as appearing on the shipping label in a data carrier, e.g. barcode, RFID. Internal stockholding locations, including equipment such as refrigerators or intelligent cabinets, can be identified by GLNs for inventory management purposes. Location information can then be used in conjunction with other GS1 identifiers by external and internal supply chain operators to ensure that products are delivered to and stored in the correct location. This is essential as a particular item may be required urgently for an operation or other critical procedure, and any delay in locating it may result in a patient safety issue.
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