A high level of patient safety together with a more efficient and secure supply chain are some of the challenges that the healthcare sector faces on a daily basis.

The primary task of the healthcare sector is to treat patients and ensure that the right patient gets the right treatment and right medicine in the right dose according to the right diagnosis. Despite this, a patient can be given the wrong treatment or medicine because the patient has been linked to the wrong chart, samples, x-ray pictures or medicine.

By identifying and labelling patients, pharmaceuticals, samples, care providers and beds with barcodes or RFID tags according to GS1 standards, the healthcare sector can significantly increase patient safety and create a more efficient supply chain. When a patient is automatically linked to the correct treatment, there is a reduced risk of getting the wrong medicine or dose, being given blood of the wrong group or undergoing the wrong surgical procedure.

GS1 standards enable unique identification of patients, pharmaceuticals, samples and sterile surgical instruments using standards which are applied in many different sectors worldwide.

Here are some examples of how GS1 standards can be used to improve patient safety:

  • Verifying a patient’s identity by scanning the barcode on their wristband.
  • Automatic matching of a patient with the correct diagnosis, treatment and medication.
  • Tracing samples and blood.
  • Dispensing medicine automatically.
  • Registering the item number and serial number of an implant in a patient’s chart.
  • Tracing individual instruments from sterilisation to patient.
  • Protection against drug counterfeiting through traceability of each unit dose, package or case, from manufacturer to end user.


Unique identification of pharmaceuticals and medical devices

Pharmaceuticals and medical devices need to be labelled with item number, use-by date, production date, serial number, etc. RFID tags and GS1 DataMatrix can carry much more information than traditional barcodes and are used today for labelling pharmaceuticals and medical devices. In addition, RFID provides rapid identification and can be read from a distance, which saves time.

User-driven development

Development and maintenance of GS1 standards, solutions and services is carried out together with our users in working groups globally, at the European level and in Sweden. The Swedish user group for healthcare includes representatives from both healthcare providers and their suppliers.

The user group has, amongst other things, published a Vision of what healthcare wants to achieve using GS1 standards (in Swedish). The primary aim is that GS1’s standards should contribute to improved patient safety. 

Read more about different sectors on our global website

Do you have questions regarding GS1 and healthcare? Please contact our sector manager Mats Björkqvist, tel +46 8 50 10 10 34