GS1 Identifiers and EPC’s in EDI Messages: Important New HDMA Guidance

Earlier this month the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA) published newly updated guidance documents for the use of Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12 Electronic Document Interchange (EDI) messages in the U.S. healthcare supply chain.  This is a very important update that supply chain participants should take notice of because it includes new information about how to properly communicate GS1 identifiers, including GLN’s, GTIN’s, and Electronic Product Codes (EPC’s) like SGTIN’s and SSCC’s, within the four document types that are in common use for Order-to-Cash transactions.

The EDI document types included in the updated guidance includes:

  • 810, Invoice
  • 850, Purchase Order
  • 855, Purchase Order Acknowledgement, and
  • 856, Advance Shipment Notice (ASN)

Technically, these guidance documents are in four separate documents, but the HDMA has chosen to package all four into a single PDF file.  That seems like an odd choice, but at least you only need to download one (large) file.  You can submit an order for the document at the HDMA Online Store.  There are many useful documents on this site for sale or free download (to members).  The newly updated document I’m referring to is called

“EDI Guidelines For Order-to-Cash (810, 850, 855, 856) in the Healthcare Product Supply Chain (Electronic Download)”

The file download is free for HDMA members.

You can use the file as it is, although the page numbers start over at page 1 at the beginning of each of the sub-documents and that can be confusing.  I found it very slow to work with the single file so I downloaded a free utility from the called PDF Split and Merge which allowed me to split the one large PDF file into the four separate PDF files.  This is the way they originally intended them to be and this way the page numbering in each document is accurate.


As I said above, this update contains important new information about how to properly represent GS1 identifiers in the four standard EDI document types.  Each participant in the U.S. healthcare supply chains who plans to make use of EDI document to carry GS1 GLN’s, GTIN’s and EPC’s should follow this guidance so their EDI documents will be compatible and understandable by their trading partners.  The HDMA has determined the proper EDI segment type and representation for each type of GS1 identifier.  They include two detailed examples for each of the four document types.  In the EDI 856 ASN document, examples are included that show how to represent a detailed serialized packaging hierarchy.

Someday companies will probably make use of ePedigrees to pass unit, inner-pack, case and pallet serialized packaging hierarchy to their customers rather than ASN’s, but until the California pedigree regulations go into effect, this new HDMA guidance update shows how that data can be passed within existing EDI exchanges.  ASN’s are not ePedigrees, and companies should not expect to use them to comply with pedigree regulations, but for now, adding serial numbers to these common B2B messages can be a low cost way to pass this valuable data to your downstream trading partners.

If you are interested in sending or receiving GS1 identifiers and/or serial numbers within standard EDI messages, check with your trading partners to see if they are willing to adopt the changes in this important update.

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