In health care, the GS1 standards increase patient safety, improve transparency in supply chains and facilitate the traceability of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The standards help in marking and identifying pharmaceuticals, equipment, patients and service providers of health care and hospital beds.

Implementing GS1 standards is extremely topical

Implementing GS1 standards in health care is topical for many reasons:

  1. The EU Falsified Medicines Directive requires serial numbers on all pharmaceutical packaging starting in February 2019.
  2. The aim is to make the UDI system created for identifying devices a global standard. The implementation of the system has already begun in the United States.
  3. Automatic recognition of patients will become even more important with the digitalisation of health care and the growing number of information security risks.

A serial number individualises authentic medicine


The EU legislation on medicine markings is about to change. The Falsified Medicines Directive 2011/62/EU requires serial numbers on all pharmaceutical packaging starting in February 2019. The GS1 Datamatrix bar code will be used for the markings that will include the medicine packaging’s item and batch numbers, the use by date and an individual serial number. As the manufacturer enters the packaging details into the compiled EU database, the entire distribution chain—wholesalers, pharmacies and hospitals—can check the authenticity of the product.

UDI markings in equipment optimise nursing


Central authorities monitoring patient safety, for instance the European Commission and the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, aim at creating coherent legislation also for identifying medical equipment. The United States has decided to use the UDI identifier based on global standards, and the same is also being planned in Europe. The identifier helps identify counterfeit products and separate similar types of equipment from one another. It also makes any possible product recalls easier and increases efficiency in health care. 

Unambiguous identifying of patients promotes patient safety


Automated identifying of patients speeds up the work of health care professionals and decreases the risk of serious medication or procedure mistakes. For the time being, procedures for identifying patients may change even between hospital districts. GS1 standards provide a global, secure, unique and unambiguous way of identifying patients, regardless of the industry. When all parties speak the same language, patient safety, efficiency and traceability improve and costs are cut.

GS1 standards benefit the health care sector







GS1 key figures in health care

72 % less waste
31 % less stocks