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From the Top - Dennis Orthman

Dennis OrthmanScott Koegler, editor of talks with Dennis Orthman of SMI at GS1 Connect 2012 about efforts within the healthcare industry to implement data standardization.






Read the transcript of this interview below:

I’m Scott Koegler.  I’m at GS1 Connect, 2012.  I’m here with Dennis Orthman.  We’re going to talk about data standards in the healthcare industry and your affiliation with GS1 healthcare, right?

Dennis Orthman:  Right.

Scott Koegler:  Start there for me, Dennis.

Dennis Orthman:  Data standards is a critical aspect for the healthcare supply chain right now. We don't have any.  Many of the products that are sold within the healthcare industry are not labeled with a global trade item number. Many of the trading partners, buyers and sellers within the marketplace, are not identified with global location numbers. So an effort began within the industry approximately five years ago through a group called, The Healthcare Supply Chain Standards Coalition that wound up merging with GS1 healthcare US to push the industry to adopt data standards; just like other industries have, so that we can gain the benefits and efficiencies. The interesting part of it all to me, is that our efforts began around improving supply chain efficiency.

Scott Koegler:  I see.

Dennis Orthman:  Just like other industries have; and quickly we realized the benefits for patient safety much like in the pharmaceutical industry where automation has helped to prevent the administration of incorrect medications –

Scott Koegler:  -- Right, so get the right product; the right place; with the right patient -- 

Dennis Orthman:  Exactly!

Scott Koegler:  -- the right chart; record it properly; charge for it properly.

Dennis Orthman:  Exactly! And so, we realize that patient safety is a desired outcome here and it has become the desired outcome.

Scott Koegler:  Okay.

Dennis Orthman:  But we've got a variety of stakeholders within the industry, many of whom are focused on patient safety, some of whom are focused on supply chain efficiency but we are all moving in the same direction. Just with this GS1 Connect, 2012 conference, we think that we are reaching the point of critical mass where this movement will continue and we will get there. SMI as a membership organization with 50 providers and 50 industry partners, we all thought leaders in the industry that come together to work on industry issues and challenges; data standards being one of them, we are very dedicated. We have been an early supporter of GS1 HealthcareUS. Our members are actively engaged in pilot programs; use case development; all in support of seeing the adoption of G10 and GLN global data synchronization network within healthcare.

Scott Koegler:  So what do you see as the biggest issue in terms of the data compliance in the healthcare businesses in just getting everyone on board or syncing up there, getting them to all comply with this data standard?

Dennis Orthman:  Well right now it's all voluntary.

Scott Koegler:  Right.

Dennis Orthman:  And healthcare has been severely challenged within the last few years. The rate of change within the industry has been massive.

Scott Koegler:  Sure.

Dennis Orthman:  The speed of that change has been faster than we have ever seen before; much of the federal effort is around reform and we are as an industry trying to reinvent ourselves in so many different ways. One of which, is data standards. It is hard for many organizations to navigate through the myriad of demands within the healthcare system.

Scott Koegler:  Everything is a priority.

Dennis Orthman:  Everything.  The electronic medical record is the priority right now. And actually data standards have to enable that.

Scott Koegler:  Of course.

Dennis Orthman:  So we've tried to make sure that awareness and education is brought forward. We've spent the last five to six years specifically on awareness and education. We have a number of pioneers in the industry that have stepped up.

Scott Koegler:  Is there anything that you would say to people that either are more interested in what you're doing or want to get involved? Is there an entry point?

Dennis Orthman:  SMI in particular, is very interesting. One of my reasons for being here at this conference is to find folks from other industries who have successfully utilized and incorporated the use of the standards throughout their supply chains.  For instance, the consumer goods industry; one of the earlier adopters, they are using it throughout. We think that there is a lot of knowledge transfer that can take place from that industry over to healthcare and we want to help facilitate that. So if any of your readers or viewers are interested in contacting and engaging with SMI, they just need to go to  They will find my contact information; they can get in touch with me.

Scott Koegler:  Great, great.  Well, thanks a lot. I sure appreciate your time.

Dennis Orthman:  Scott, thank you.

Scott Koegler:  Enjoy the rest of the conference.

Dennis Orthman:  Thank you.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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