I’m pretty excited about the kickoff this Wednesday of the GS1 EPCglobal Software Action Group (SAG) Discovery Services Work Group which will take the business and technical requirements that were collected by an earlier group and turn them into an actual standard. This will be the first new major technical standard GS1 has started for quite a few years. The most recent kickoff I can remember was the GS1 Drug Pedigree Messaging Standard (DPMS) which kicked off back in late 2005 and completed in January 2007. The GS1 Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard effort kicked off in late 2004 and completed in April 2007. That gives you an idea of how long these things take.
The effort to create the business and technical requirements for Discovery Services started just about two years ago and completed this past December. How long will it take to get to a ratified standard? The GS1 Discovery Services Work Group Charter predicts it will be done in June of 2011, but predictions in charter documents are notoriously optimistic. The EPCIS Charter predicted that standard would be ratified in August of 2005, for example—one third the time it actually took.
This is not a bad thing in my opinion. A Charter document needs to estimate how long the effort will take, but once things get rolling, GS1 EPCglobal takes as long as needed to get the standard right. So how long will this one take? Based on how long the requirements took, I’m guessing Continue reading Will The Pharma Supply Chain Find Any Value In GS1 Discovery Services?
In April of last year VHA, a nationwide network of community-owned health care systems, published a viewpoint essay on their website called “The Track to Improving Health Care will be Built with IT Standards”. The posting was written by Mike Cummins, Chief Information Officer of VHA, Inc. In it, he draws a great analogy between the widespread adoption of a standard railroad gauge by railroad companies 150 years ago as part of the U.S. Transcontinental Railway (as set in motion by President Abraham Lincoln), and the potential benefits of widespread adoption of health care IT standards. Mike points out that some historians believe that the nationwide adoption of a single railway gauge accelerated the evolution of the greatness of the United States. It’s well worth reading.
I think the problem Mike sees is that there are so many incompatible IT standards in use in the healthcare industry, with different ones in use in different pockets of the industry. There are too many proprietary approaches in use, and too many standards in use in one segment of the industry that are incompatible with similar standards in use in another. In effect, it’s a patchwork, yet each user can claim to be using a standard. This was exactly the case with the railroads 150 years ago as Mike’s analogy implies. Each railroad company, or groups of companies, had their favorite “standard” gauge, but which standard was “the best”…the one worthy of becoming the national standard? I don’t know, but I do know they eventually figured it out and settled on a single gauge for the Transcontinental Railroad and that gauge become the defacto standard. That allowed the country to be connected and, as Mike points out, historians have dawn a direct line from that agreement to economic expansion and eventual greatness.
Mike makes several proposals that I interpret as ways to cut through the patchwork of standards and get the industry to settle, like the railroad companies, on a single standard for some key technologies like Electronic Medical Records (EMR), Health Identification Numbers and Personal Health Records (PHR). He calls for the broad, mandatory adoption of GS1barcodes, Global Location Numbers (GLN), Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN) and accelerated plans by the FDA to mandate the usage of Unique Device Identification (UDI). He calls for the use of part of the federal economic stimulus money to be used for standards development. Continue reading “Why the rush for GS1 standards?”