Healthcare professionals have no other choice but to set up an efficient supply in order to comply with the health and safety requirement that are becoming stronger and changing over the years. The entire supply and distribution chain is concerned by product information, as are medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical laboratories, wholesale distributors, central purchasing agencies, warehouses, hospitals, pharmacies and parapharmacies. These players must combine optimal traceability of health products and patient safety on a daily basis. These concerns are compounded by changes in regulations, in particular the UDI (Unique Device Identifier) which is required in both Europe and the USA.
It is in this context that product information management is reaching a higher level of standardization in the healthcare industry, notably via digitized product descriptions along with the use of PIM solutions (Product Information Management).
Managing product descriptions while complying with established standards
The management of information inherent to parapharmaceutical products, medicines and medical devices is facilitated by the use of a PIM (Product Information Management) platform. It allows, on the one hand, a manufacturer or laboratory to digitally centralize the product data in their catalogue and, on the other hand, the recipients of this data to centralize their suppliers' files. It should be noted that GS1 has standardized the content of health product descriptions – in collaboration with healthcare professionals, in order to meet the requirements of each stakeholder – all while complying with regulations.
Medicines and medical devices each have their own GS1 standardized product description, and parapharmacy products are managed via the FMCG product description (Fast Moving Consumer Goods). These structured product descriptions guarantee fluidity and reliability in the exchange of information between the ecosystem’s players.
Disseminating product information to the healthcare ecosystem
A PIM solution also enables the players in an ecosystem to exchange product information with each other. In the case of the healthcare sector, pharmaceutical laboratories and medical device manufacturers need to disseminate product data to their commercial partners but also to medical databases. Depending on the type of product, we distinguish different categories of data recipients:
- Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) for parapharmacy products
- Drug stores for parapharmaceutical products, medicines and medical devices
- Hospitals and clinics for medicines and medical devices
- Government databases (to date, GUDID in the USA and EUDAMED in Europe)
Digitized product descriptions exchanged via a PIM solution contribute directly to cooperation between the players in the sector, as the cornerstone of exchanges relating to product data.
The use of a PIM solution in the health sector benefits all stakeholders. In addition to the advantages for the sector in terms of managing and distributing the said files, a PIM solution saves a great deal of time, since the files only need to be created once and sent to all the desired recipients (no re-entry). The PIM solution undoubtedly stands as a reference tool.