Using GS1 Global Location Numbers (GLNs) to improve supply chain efficiency, patient safety and transparency.
GS1 Global Location Numbers (GLNs) are a unique set of numbers that are used to recognise, and distinguish between, whole organisations or sub-locations within an organisation.
They can be used to identify a particular supplier, manufacturer, or hospital and their respective departments or wards, or even a specific shelf or a patient bay.
Types of GLNs
A business (e.g. manufacturer, supplier, hospital, or institution) that can legally enter into agreements or contracts.
An organisational sub-location or department identified by its specific task e.g. accounts or procurement.
A tangible place that may be represented by an address, coordinates, or other means.
An electronic (non-physical) address that is used for communication between computer systems.
Why use GLNs?
GLNs are used to streamline purchase to pay (P2P) processes to make procurement more efficient for all stakeholders.
When used in tandem with unique product identifiers (GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers – GTIN), GLNs facilitate e-procurement to ensure the right products are available whenever and wherever they are needed.
Products can then be seamlessly tracked and traced from the point of manufacture or supply, through to the appropriate delivery location, point of care, or point of use to enable end-to-end product traceability.
The right supplier is identified for orders and billing.
The right product is ordered and issued.
It is then delivered to exact location requested.
So it is readily available and accessible for use when needed.
GLNs in healthcare regulation
The adoption GLNs plays a central role within healthcare regulation. In some cases their use has been mandated, but they can also be used to support compliance with wider regulatory requirements.
GLNs are an essential component of the coding requirements issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as part of the NHS Framework Agreement for the Supply of Goods into the NHS.
It specifies that all suppliers providing goods to the NHS should ensure “full compliance with any Guidance issued by the DHSC in relation to the adoption of GS1 and PEPPOL standards” with the requirement to be using these standards by 2020/2021.
It relies on two key components:
- The use of GS1 standards for product and location identification, and data synchronisation
- The use of Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) messaging standards for the electronic exchange of transaction information such as purchase orders, delivery details and the exchange of invoices (Electronic data interchange – EDI)
As part of the NHS eProcurement Strategy published by The DHSC in 2014, suppliers and trusts should be using GS1 identifiers and PEPPOL messaging to support the transition to e-trading and e-invoicing.
The eProcurement compliance document for medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic devices published in 2018 states the following for trusts and suppliers: "Send invoices to NHS PEPPOL access points electronically from your PEPPOL access point to NHS access points to include the GS1 identifiers (Global Trade Item Number, GTIN and Global Location Number, GLN) to customers who are capable of receiving them, including NHS Supply Chain".
This enables efficient purchase-to-pay processes across the healthcare sector, connecting the transfer of accurate product and location information between manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, suppliers and the NHS trusts they supply.
For both the EU medical device regulations (MDR), the in-vitro diagnostic medical device regulations (IVDR) and related UK regulations, there will be greater emphasis on the post-market surveillance of medical devices. This includes proactively monitoring device performance for re-certification, annual safety updates for higher-risk class devices, and rapid reporting of safety incidents.
As part of this, suppliers will now need to upload all medical device information including their Unique Device Identification (UDI) and/or Basic UDI-DI (BUDI-DI) into a central European database (EUDAMED).
Using GLNs enables devices to be traced throughout the entire supply chain including where the devices were manufactured, where they were distributed from and where they were delivered to.
For product recalls, Medical Device Alerts (MDAs) and Field Safety Notifications (FSNs), the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), have recommended that the Legal Entity GLN be used on all FSNs and MDAs for submission to facilitate traceability and post-market surveillance.
This will be particularly critical for medical device suppliers but will also impact trusts and NHS arm’s length bodies responsible for the supply of goods into the NHS.
The 2019 Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) was introduced as a measure to prevent counterfeit medicines from entering the supply chain and being issued to patients.
Using GLNs for organisations and Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) for medical products, any counterfeit medicines can be tracked and traced from manufacturer to the point of delivery/issue. This way, any suspected counterfeit products can be identified and removed from circulation as quickly in the event of a medication safety alert or product recall.
Benefits of place management
Real-time location insights at every touchpoint throughout the patient’s care journey.
Defective products can quickly be removed from circulation from any locations around the trust.
Deliveries can be tracked appropriately through the supply chain directly to the final delivery point.
Prevent delays through efficient order and transaction processing by identifying the right supplier and trust from the outset.
Assets can be traced to specific locations so you know where your equipment is whenever you need it.
Enables effective infection prevention and control through the ability to trace patient contact points.