Healthcare Sector Moves to Reduce Duplication and Waste in Administrative Processes Healthcare Sector Moves to Reduce Duplication and Waste in Administrative Processes
Contact us to learn more about GS1 Canada 1.800.567.7084

Contact us to learn
more about GS1 Canada
or Email Us

GS1 Canada Logo links home

Healthcare Sector Moves to Reduce Duplication and Waste in Administrative Processes

Toronto, ON, June 29, 2011 - To improve the efficiency of clinical operations and procurement processes across the Canadian healthcare system, global standards body GS1 Canada has released Healthcare Product Description Standardization Guidelines for product short descriptions for medical/surgical products. Developed by the GS1 Canada Healthcare Product Description Standardization Work Group, these guidelines provide a formula for healthcare suppliers, providers and Shared Service Organizations (SSOs) to standardize the short descriptions of medical and surgical products in their databases, facilitating the exchange of accurate and standardized product data between healthcare trading partners.

Currently, many providers use unique codes internal to their own organizations for describing products.
As the healthcare industry advances adoption of global supply chain standards to improve supply chain efficiencies, the healthcare community identified the short product description as a key issue requiring resolution. With healthcare suppliers and providers using a consistent formula to describe healthcare products, all users will be able to quickly and easily identify a product. As a result, ambiguity in item catalogues and item master files will be minimized, reducing problems such as duplicate product ordering, which can add time and costs for all trading partners.

The guidelines are already being put into use across Canada, by Shared Services Organizations (SSOs) such as Health Shared Services BC, as well as individual healthcare institutions and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) such as HealthPRO. “To provide value to our members, it is imperative that we all speak the same language,” noted Denise Shoesmith, Vice President, Materials Management, HealthPRO. “These guidelines will ensure that products are described consistently in our systems, those of our suppliers, and those of the healthcare providers we represent, enabling us to maximize efficiencies and minimize errors when ordering the products used in healthcare facilities across Canada every day.”

The long-term objective is for standardized short product descriptions to be created by the supplier, with no modifications required by healthcare providers as the product moves through the healthcare supply chain – from the point of manufacture to the point of patient care.  This will ensure that the entire healthcare community is using the same short forms in both their clinical and non-clinical systems, such as the item master list.

“There is great value for both hospitals and patients in standardizing healthcare product descriptions,” added Tom Closson, President and CEO, OHA, which represents 154 public hospitals across the province.  “These guidelines will enable healthcare providers to compare apples to apples when placing orders, managing inventory, or scheduling supplies for the operating room, laying the foundation for further operational enhancements moving forward.”

Benefits of using standardized product descriptions include:

  • Improved order processing
  • Reduced time required for product replenishment
  • Reduced costs throughout the supply chain
  • Reduced time and resources required to return product
  • Easier search capability for product information when recalls occur
  • Reduced instances of:
    • Incorrect ordering
    • Incorrect shipment of goods
    • Out-of-stocks
    • Time spent on data cleansing and inventory management

“These guidelines are another demonstration of the value of supply chain processes based on global GS1 standards,” stated N. Arthur Smith, President and CEO, GS1 Canada.  “Use of a global standards-based process for describing medical/surgical products not only drives efficiency by eliminating work for individual organizations, but also drives interoperability across the entire healthcare system.”


About GS1 Canada
GS1 Canada is a member of GS1, the world’s leading supply chain standards organization. As a neutral, not-for-profit organization, GS1 Canada enables its more than 20,000 members – organizations of all sizes from over 20 sectors across Canada – to enhance their efficiency and cost effectiveness by adopting electronic supply chain best practices. Learn more at

About the Ontario Hospital Association
The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) is the voice of Ontario’s public hospitals.  Founded in 1924, the OHA uses advocacy, education and partnerships to build a strong, innovative and sustainable healthcare system for all Ontarians. Learn more at

About HealthPRO
HealthPRO is Canada’s largest healthcare group purchasing organization (GPO). Owned by and responsible to its member shareholders, it offers a comprehensive range of contracts for the highest quality products at the lowest cost, a benchmark product evaluation process and a unique policy of choice and flexibility. Current product and service categories include Pharmacy Services, Clinical Services and Clinical Specialties, Energy management, Nutrition & Food Services, and Special Services. HealthPRO can be found online at

For more information, contact:
Sarah Charuk
Senior Manager, Public Affairs
GS1 Canada
416-510-8039 x2229