Working for a safer, more efficient healthcare system

Date:  21 July 2023

Working for a safer, more efficient healthcare system

The International Hospital Federation (IHF) and GS1 Healthcare share a commitment, and longstanding collaboration, to help global healthcare systems develop through initiatives that improve patient outcomes and drive efficiencies. The IHF supports GS1 Healthcare’s efforts to drive the adoption of global standards for the identification and barcoding of medical products.

The challenges faced by healthcare supply chains, including complex logistics, the risk of counterfeit products, and ineffective product recalls, have significant impacts on patient outcomes and overall healthcare delivery costs.

Implementing a single, global standard for product identification and barcoding provides a tool to address these challenges due to increased visibility. Information gained by barcode scanning can prevent the distribution of falsified and substandard medicines, support inventory management, reduce waste, prevent medical errors, and improve patient safety. This barcode can also be used to access online product information.

The adoption of global standards is already underway in over 75 countries. Evidence from more than 50 countries clearly shows that the healthcare sector is adopting 2-dimensional (2D) Data Matrix barcodes.

Ronald Lavater, Chief Executive Officer of the IHF, explains the importance of the GS1 initiative for IHF members globally:

Patient safety and hospital efficiency are core priorities for health systems globally. Scanning medical products at the point of care reduces errors, returns time to care and ultimately improves health outcomes for everyone, everywhere. In the future, we anticipate the GS1 Data Matrix having even more widespread applications to support the resilience and sustainability of healthcare delivery. We applaud GS1 commitment to continuously improve the harmonisation of barcoding and standardisation across healthcare supply chains.


One globally standardised 2D Data Matrix barcode per healthcare product is the goal of GS1 Healthcare.  For the last 18 years we have been working with the healthcare sector to educate, support and provide the standards by which to achieve this.

said Geraldine Lissalde-Bonnet, Vice President Healthcare, GS1 Global Office.

As we celebrate the barcode’s 50th anniversary, we continue our commitment to work together to support the advancement of healthcare systems globally. Adopting initiatives such as global standards in healthcare using single Data Matrix barcodes will further improve patient outcomes and drive innovation in the healthcare industry. The IHF supports GS1 Healthcare’s call to all stakeholders, including governments, regulators, healthcare providers, and industry, to collaborate and leverage global standards and Data Matrix barcodes.

Together, we can enable a safer healthcare system for all.

Written by:

Katherine Bennett

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