EDI implementation drivers in healthcare: GS1 Guides
Drivers for the implementation of EDI in healthcare may vary between markets as a result of internal and external factors. However, they generally fall into the following categories according to GS1 guidelines:
- Helping to ensure quality of care
- Meeting regulatory or trading partner requirements
- Facilitating product traceability
- Increasing supply chain efficiency and accuracy and reducing costs
- Enabling new business processes
Helping to ensure quality of care
The use of EDI ensures more accurate communication about products ordered, shipped and received throughout the healthcare supply chain. This is particularly important in a hospital or pharmacy environment when supply chain miscommunication or errors could mean the product needed for patient treatment is not available at a critical time, potentially risking quality of patient care and outcomes. For example, a required, yet unavailable product may mean a delayed surgery. This leads to patient stress and confusion, increased risk of contracting an unrelated infection due to a longer stay in the hospital, and financial impact for the patient and their family. Additionally, the hospital and healthcare system is now faced with an unused operating theatre, clinical staff members who must be reassigned to alternate tasks, and an expanding waiting list since the original surgery must be rescheduled. All of these disruptions and changes to the flow of services throughout the hospital may have a negative impact on the safety and health outcomes of other patients since their surgeries may also be delayed.
Meeting regulatory or trading partners requirements
Many trading partners have realised the broad-scale benefits of EDI-driven transactions—either to reduce costs or combat fraud—and are, therefore, requesting that their trading partners become EDI enabled. In response, a significant number of companies are implementing EDI to meet their trading partner requests.
Facilitating product traceability
EDI messages can include information identifying the specific product being discussed as well as information about the product’s batch / lot or even serial number. Where traceability of products is important, this detailed product data helps ensure accurate and complete electronic records about the specific products ordered and shipped to a particular trading partner. In the case of a product recall or withdrawal, this information can then be used to efficiently track the product to its current location, accelerating its removal from shelves.
Increasing efficiency & accuracy and reducing costs
The use of EDI automates manual processes, thus eliminating the need for paper, printing, physical storage of documents and postage for increased efficiencies and cost savings. Electronic documents can also be processed more quickly than those requiring manual intervention, ensuring that customer needs are met for higher customer satisfaction. Inventory levels can be more effectively managed due to the reduction in lag time between the receiving and processing of order-to-cash documents. In addition, invoices and other financial documents can be processed in a timelier manner for increased cash flow.
Enabling new business processes
Beyond making existing processes more efficient, EDI is a potent enabler for creating totally new business processes and supply chain solutions. Features like reliable communication, high-quality product data and near real-time processes are the foundation for solutions such as vendor managed inventory (VMI), automated reconciliation of invoices and traceability systems.
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