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36th Global GS1 Healthcare Conference held in Delhi

Organised for the first time in India, the event witnessed and welcomed regulatory bodies, international organisations and more than 330 participants from all around the world

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Supply chain standards organisation GS1 recently organised the 36th Global GS1 Healthcare conference in New Delhi, from 5th to 7th November 2019. Following the theme of safer, more efficient care starts with a simple scan, this event witnessed and welcomed regulatory bodies, international organisations and more than 330 participants from all around the world.

In her opening remarks, Ulrike Kreysa, Senior Vice-President – Healthcare, GS1, said, “The worldwide challenge of providing better care, with greater efficiency, for every patient, has led to increasing activity in pharmaceutical traceability, supply chain, hospital management and UDI regulation. GS1 plays a leading role in these processes and our global conferences are an important platform to share experiences and knowledge.”

Adding to it, Ravi Mathur, CEO, GS1 India, said, “The conference provided an excellent opportunity for Indian pharmaceutical and medical device companies, regulatory bodies, hospitals and medical professionals to hear on global developments in healthcare from distinguished speakers from across the world and to share their own experiences as well.”

The plenary session on day one delivered information with discussions on a number of issues related to enabling and enhancing patient safety through track and trace of medicines, medical devices, etc.

In his keynote address, Dr Vinod K Paul, Member (Health, Nutrition & Gender), NITI Aayog, informed of the Ayushman Bharat – the world’s biggest healthcare initiative which provides healthcare coverage to more than half a billion people in India. Statistically, 1/3rd of an individual’s average income in our country gets spent on medical expenditure for her/himself and her/his family, driving the individual into debt. The Ayushman Bharat scheme aims to provide a comprehensive and integrated family healthcare system and increased access to healthcare in the country. In just its first year of implementation, over 5.6 million have benefitted from the scheme.

Dr Paul also stated that India needs to align and integrate with GS1’s philosophy on benchmarks, standards and the notion of one and connected world for commodities, quality assurance, patient safety, supply chain and fidelity along, with a desire to work together to ensure that patients in India are treated in hospitals which are safe.

Speaking at the conference on Indian track and trace systems for exports, Tripti Nakhare, Senior General Manager- Regulatory Affairs, FDC, a forerunner in manufacturing and marketing of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and Ophthalmic, said, “In India, DGFT guidelines ensure serialisation and barcoding for medicine export market, whereas it is currently voluntary for the domestic market. There is a huge market for counterfeit medicine in the country. To eliminate that, security of the end-to-end supply chain needs to be ensured. We see authentication is easily possible in a controlled supply but to an end user, it still remains a challenge. To do away with counterfeit products, consumer awareness is essential. We are actively seeking innovation to make this end-to-end safety possible.”

On the second day, the discussions revolved around the hospitals working towards better quality of care and efficiency by Professor Sir Terence Stephenson, Nuffield Professor of Child Health, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, UK; Raghavan Rajagopal, Ex-CEO, Insurance Information Bureau of India and others. The day also featured the special think tank session for regulators from around the world.

Talking on hospital identification for mediclaim process – ROHINI, Rajagopal highlighted that, “Linkage between the information provided to insurance regulators and primary input sources is missing, along with lack of hospital ID complications and a credit credible registry of hospitals for the benefit of the stakeholders involved in the health insurance industry. To address these challenges, ROHINI was launched in 2015 with essential support from GS1 India to address medical malpractice. The interoperability possibility of the system made it possible for the system to be adopted for the Ayushman Bharat scheme by the Government of India. The eventual goal in our minds is one national grid for healthcare in the country.”

On the third day, the discussions focused on Unique Device Identification (UDI) systems. The session UDI regulation in India, highlighted that UDI of the medical devices will be effective from 1st January, 2022 as per Rule 46 of Medical Devices Rules, 2017. The system is intended to provide single, globally harmonised positive identification of medical devices through distribution and use, requiring the label of devices to bear a globally unique device identifier based upon standards comprising of Device Identifier (UDI-DI and Production Identifier (UDI-PI).

It also highlighted the advantages it poses for the Indian healthcare industry, including faster discovery of faulty medical devices, faster recalls, reduction in medical errors, reduction in counterfeiting, better assessment of device performance and improved inventory management.

Serving as a foundational source of information, the event addressed track and trace of medicine through adoption of barcode technology and GS1 global standards, delivering quality and affordable healthcare by hospitals, through universal and unique identification of medical devices with a special think tank session of regulators from over 35 countries worldwide to develop and harmonise standards in unique identification of medicines, their authentication and their uniform legislations which can significantly enhance patient safety worldwide.

The conference concluded with an invitation to the 37th Global GS1 Healthcare Conference in Paris, France.

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