Global standards organisation, GS1 UK, has announced a five-year partnership with NHS Digital in a bid to enhance patient safety, reduce unwarranted clinical variation and improve operational efficiencies across care providers in England.
Announced at GS1 UK’s 2019 Healthcare Conference, the partnership enables NHS Trusts to use GS1 standards, starting with the patient wristband and extending to location management using the Global Location Number registry (LocationManager).
This allows the NHS in England to support the unique identification of every person, every product and every place, from care-givers to beds, solving major logistical problems and offering tangible improvements to the quality and safety of care.
Gary Lynch, chief executive at GS1 UK, said: “The NHS Long-Term Plan clearly sets out its commitment to increasing the use of technology to improve standards of care and this partnership is clear evidence of it making good on that promise.
“Embedding open standards and technology will continue to save thousands of lives and millions of pounds, as well as freeing up countless staff hours that can be better spent doing what NHS staff do best – offering the best patient care.
“Implementing unique identifiers allows for increased traceability and visibility throughout the entire patient care pathway, meaning we are able to support NHS professionals to deliver improved patient care.”
The contract between GS1 UK and NHS Digital builds on the work the standards body has engaged in with NHS Trusts over the course of the past 12 years, enabling major advances such as the auto-identification of every baby born in a hospital in England through application of NHS number using GS1 standards.
Organisations like University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust have made nearly £4 million in savings since their roll out of GS1 standards, and the Department for Health and Social Care estimates that GS1-enabled programmes will save the NHS £1 billion over the next seven years.
GS1 UK’s system-agnostic and interoperable open-standards technology was recently cited by the secretary of state for health and social care, Matt Hancock, as an effective example of transformational technology in practice as the NHS moves to a digital future.
Tom Denwood, executive director for data, insights and statistics at NHS Digital, said: “The Department of Health and Social Care’s e-procurement strategy mandates the use of GS1 standards in every NHS acute trust in England. We hope this five-year contract will drive a range of efficiencies for staff and patients, while improving the quality and safety of care.
“Open standards offer more consistency across the board and reduce unwanted clinical variations. Harnessing technology to make the most of the information we have at our fingertips is the quickest and safest way to make real improvements.”