With the introduction of the Pioneer Generation Package and Medishield Life, it is obvious that in today’s fast-ageing society, having a quality healthcare for everyone, especially for the elderly and the financially less privileged, is of paramount importance.
In view of this, GS1 Singapore, a Centre of Excellence under Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and part of the GS1 global network, held its inaugural healthcare forum on 2 September 2014 to discuss improving patient safety and raising healthcare quality.
The forum saw the participation of more than 100 industry players from public and private healthcare organisations for an exchange of expertise and industry knowledge under the common goal of improving the efficiency of healthcare services and quality of patient safety in Singapore. Attendee profiles included leading medical device distributors, manufacturers, brand owners, quality & regulatory affairs executives, and professionals from hospitals and healthcare organisations. Representatives from MOH Holdings, National Healthcare Group and Health Sciences Authority were also present at the forum.
Mr. Liew Wai Leong, CEO of GS1 Singapore, kicked start the forum with an inspiring welcome address
The forum attracted more than 100 participants, including representatives from government agencies
The discussion on implementation of Unique Device Identifier (UDI) was one of the highlights at the forum. According to statistics provided by McKinsey & Company, at the global level, there is an estimated annual incidence of 50-100 million medication errors, resulting in 10-35 million preventable adverse drug effects, and USD $18-115 billion in associated potential healthcare costs. As such, healthcare professionals are thus turning their attention to developing global standards in the industry to provide better solutions to reduce medical risks at cost-effective manner.
UDI is a new revolutionary development in the healthcare industry. Each UDI contains important information on the device, such as a unique product number and expiry date. Hence, this improves the quality of information in medical device adverse event reports. This will in turn help suppliers and the authorities to identify product problems more quickly, target recalls and improve patient safety. In addition to more efficient traceability of devices and recalls, UDI specificity also better counteracts counterfeiting and elevates patient safety. As such, UDI could potentially help to reduce medical costs.
Under the rule by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), most medical devices distributed in the USA are required to carry UDI in automatic readable format. Both the USA and Europe have participated with other regional authorities to develop harmonised guidance for global UDI implementation in the International Medical Device Regulatory Forum (IMDRF). By 2018, all medical devices sold in the USA will be required to have a unique identifier. UDI is therefore something that the industry should not overlook.
In the Singapore healthcare environment, GS1 Singapore is the first organisation heading the UDI implementation and creating awareness of this new trend. Hence, the GS1 Healthcare Forum was aimed at providing a good platform for participants to acquire understanding on the importance of global standards. The forum featured a strong line-up of speakers on various topics. Ms. Ulrike Kreysa, Vice President, Healthcare, GS1 Global Office, was present as the Keynote Speaker. She gave a detailed presentation on UDI, its benefits and its implications for stakeholders. She also shared with the participants the the experience so far in the UDI implementation. Through her presentation, the participants have learnt about the advantages of achieving a global UDI system for global traceability and post market surveillance. In addition, the participants also gained better understanding on the GS1 standards are to make UDI a reality.
“UDI will change the world of Medical Devices significantly and will improve patient safety beyond borders as well as increase the efficiency and safety in the Healthcare supply chain. It is very important that all countries worldwide introduce a harmonized identification system for medical devices and allow interoperability of their related UDI databases. I am confident that Singapore will follow the global recommendations of the International Device Regulatory Forum and profit from the benefits deriving from implementation of UDI for their patients,” she said.
Ms. Ulrike Kreysa, Vice President of the GS1 Global Office located at Brussels, was the keynote speaker at the forum
Second speaker: Mr. Harsh Babarkar, Director, Regional Operations Development ASEAN & Ethicon Surgical Care Asia Pacific, Johnson & Johnson Medical Asia Pacific. He gave an informative presentation on Managing Growth and Improving Efficiency across the Healthcare Value Chain
Third speaker: Mr. Teng Chun Chong, Regional Sales Director at APAC, Cortex (a subsidiary of CODE). Using illuminating case studies, he presented a possible roadmap to standards adoption
To wrap up the successful event, there was also an interactive panel discussion, during which the speakers shared their insights and provided answers to some of the questions raised by eager participants. Through the forum, participants had gained greater knowledge on UDI and understood how its use can improve patient safety and healthcare business processes.
Other than the three speakers, two esteemed panellists were also invited to share their views at the discussion: Mr. Kwan Fook Weng (right), Member of Biomedical Standards Committee at SMF-Standards Development Organisation; Dr. Stuart Koe (second from right), Managing Director of ICM Pharma Pte Ltd. The panel was moderated by Ms. Low Lee Keng (left), Marketing & Partnership Manager at GS1 Singapore
Participants of the event had also expressed positive and encouraging feedbacks.
“The forum has been very informative. GS1 is at the forefront when it comes to track and trace capabilities. Adoption of UDI has been picking up speed and it will be worldwide implementation at some point in the future. Hence, it is good to learn more about UDI,” said Mr. Roger Chan, Account Director of NCS Pte Ltd.
“The forum provided a very enriching experience. I have gained better understanding on what is UDI and its importance and benefits to the healthcare industry. I would definitely bring back what I have learnt today and share with my colleagues,” said Mr. Chew Chung Seng, Engineer, Product Engineering, JMS Singapore Pte Ltd.
“We are taking baby steps at the moment. The main objective of this forum is to raise more awareness of UDI. The outcome has been very encouraging. We have attracted a diverse audience from both public and private sectors. The speakers on the panel are also very knowledgeable. Singapore has always been aiming to be the best in all areas. We should work together and aim to be the first to implement UDI in the region,” said Mr. Patrick Chang, Chairman of GS1 Singapore.
“Healthcare costs are rising and are expected to grow faster than national income in most countries, including Singapore in the foreseeable future. Stemming this growth has become a major policy priority and healthcare suppliers and providers alike, are exploring ways to control costs. One area of better controlling healthcare costs is in efficiently managing the healthcare supply chain. Better visibility of inventory across nodes of the supply chain and transparency on inventory expiry dates will reduce inventory and obsolescence cost. Integrating data and using global standards across the healthcare supply chain will help reduce transaction and processing costs. It will also reduce manual data capture, double checking, and relabeling while increasing the accuracy of these processes,” concluded Mr. Liew Wai Leong, Chief Executive Officer of GS1 Singapore.