Technical areas: human resources, M&E, technology

September 2016: Bar codes play a crucial role in the health supply chain, ensuring the right materials and products are available to the end user, while increasing accuracy and reducing processing and data collection time.

The following topics were moderated by different groups of experts:

  1. Barcoding basics: Understanding what barcoding does and how it does it. Moderated by Ulrike Kreysa, Vice-President, Healthcare, Peter J. Alverez, Senior Director of Master Data Management, and Charles E. “Chuck” Biss, Senior Director of AIDC Healthcare from GS1 Global Office
  2. Ensuring readiness for barcoding in the health supply chain: pre-requisites and a checklist for the planning phase to implement barcoding. Moderated by Shyam Lama, Senior Technical Advisor at John Snow, Inc.
  3. Challenges it can solve, processes and procedures and case studies. Moderated by Brian Talisesin, Program Manager for PATH’s Digital Health Solution Group, Kunle Oye-Igbemo, Solutions Architect & Manager for GS1 Nigeria, and Teddy Berihun, Senior Health Information Systems Advisor for USAID Ethiopia.

IAPHL members discussed current challenges (products lacking barcodes, investment in barcoding equipment, lack of data standardization, training, staffing). An APEC track & trace group made three recommendations:

  1. Define a clear objective
  2. Collaborate with stakeholders
  3. Recommend use of global data standards

Barcoding benefits:

Visibility: The conspicuous unique identification barcoding provides to businesses a legal entity, products, assets, locations, and is critical brand and image.
Safety: Product security and consumer/patient safety made possible by barcoding helps achieve genuine product authentication and protection from counterfeiting and theft.
Efficiency: The automation of business processes that is enhanced by barcoding leads to speedy data collection and processing, cost-reduction, time-saving and increased accuracy in the value chain.
Data Quality: Barcoding improves data quality.
Faster Reporting: Barcoding enhances value-added communication in B2B, B2C business frameworks through mobile and electronic applications.
Automated Order Processing: Data capture and electronic exchange between partners reduces waste and returns.
Compliance: Ensuring products and batches approved by regulatory authorities is supported with barcoding system.
Traceability and Reverse Logistics (Recall): In the case adverse event are made possible by barcoding.
Measure Impact: Linking supply chain data with patient records or laboratory systems helps makes metrics available to support demand planning.

Case study and reference links:

Health care success stories

US Code of Federal Regulations on bar code label requirements 

Ethiopia’s experience related to barcodes on secondary packaging 

PATH piloted use of barcodes at the SDP level for vaccines in Tanzania

McKinsey report:Strength in unity: the promise of global standards in health care

2009 case study in Australia

Bar coding checklist

Barcoding: Modernizing warehouse to lighten the workload, a case study in Pakistan 

An Introduction to Barcoding: Reading between the Lines