The usage of the GS1 EDI in healthcare: Frequently Asked Questions

In our previous posts, we talked a lot about the user cases and best practices of EDI usage in Healthcare. Today, we offer to sum up the series of these posts and give a portion of the Frequently Asked Questions, including the usage of the GS1 Global Guideline.

Who is using EDI in healthcare?

In the healthcare sector, GS1 EDI is widely used by manufacturers, hospitals, pharmacies, Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) and logistics providers.

Why was the global guideline developed?

The widespread use of GS1 EDI has, in some cases, led to differences in interpretation and application. To alleviate this, GS1 has produced a harmonised global guideline, including business process model and a Healthcare Interoperability Model. The processes described are supported by the Business Document Specifications and the Mappings Specifications developed for both the GS1 EANCOM and GS1 XML EDI
standards. The Business Document Specifications describe what information should be included in the electronic business documents sent between the business systems. The Mapping Specifications define how the elements of the business documents are mapped to an EANCOM message and an XML message respectively.

How is the healthcare approach to EDI different to other industries?

Healthcare uses the GS1 EDI standards in the same way as other industry sectors. By using the global guidelines, healthcare stakeholders can take a globally consistent approach to implementation.

What should I do to start an EDI implementation in healthcare?

EDI implementation consists of three stages:

  • Initial implementation – when setting up EDI for the first time, the following decisions must be taken:
    • Selection of standards – GS1 recommends the use of EANCOM or GS1 XML
    • Determining the business models relevant to the business partners involved in the EDI process and based on the global guideline
    • Selection of messages from the global guideline suitable for the given business models
    • Selection of network – GS1 Member Organisations may have a list of the network and software providers available at the local market
    • Selection of software – may depend on the selected service provider
    • Development of application and allocation of resources – this step is the most time consuming and costly part of EDI implementations. The IT system currently used and its capability determine the necessary investment in the IT development. Besides, the internal IT
      resources may need to be trained to ensure that they fully understand the GS1 System, and EDI messaging processes. If the company is engaging external resources, it should ensure that the adequate references are provided, to guarantee the capability of the resources.
  • Roll out – The EDI process involves at least one other company, so its success is also driven by their ability. A company must be aware of its trading partners’ capability and select first the most feasible partner. There is information earlier in the guide about assessing where to commence an implementation.
  • Enhance – adding more applications. The EDI implementation should not be limited to just one business model, and further enhancements will be required to ensure that all the steps in the business cycle are covered. By reviewing the global model, some further opportunities to develop and enhance the internal systems and make them compatible with EDI messaging could be noticed.

To learn more about EDI and become a CEDIAP® (Certified EDI Academy Professional), please visit our course schedule page.

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