Skip to main content
Home » Children's Health » Far-reaching benefits in digital traceability for healthcare providers

Siobhain Duggan

Director of Innovation and Healthcare, GS1 Ireland

Mike Byrne

Chief Executive Officer GS1 Ireland

Ensuring digital traceability allows health providers to boost sustainability and safety for patients and professionals.

Siobhain Duggan, Director of Innovation and Healthcare at GS1 Ireland, explains, “Digital traceability provides data to inform clinical decisions. It gives information on where, when and what has happened. The sector sees track and trace as logical, but implementing it is not always straightforward.”

A paper-based process to track critical items can create “gaps and errors in data,” she says.

“Simply moving to an electronic system does not mean you will have great data. That may still rely on people to type in the information. Tracking and scanning are more efficient and reduce the risk of error.”

Gaining patient trust

The challenge lies in ensuring traceability practice that meets established standards.

“Codes are not always unique, nor do they always meet international regulatory standards,” says Duggan. “But when done properly, traceability will make processes more efficient and safer. There is a full audit trail — it provides more information to help professionals make their decisions and increases patient confidence.”

Traceability allows information to be gathered very easily and efficiently.

Traceability in practice

Traceability is already in place at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Temple Street, where patient feeds are tracked through a standards-based traceability database. This utilises barcode labelling and a scanning system to capture critical data about each product including expiry date, batch number, location within the hospital, the staff member that delivered it and the patient who received it.

Track and trace also helped HSE’s National Immunisation Office receive, administer, track and report Covid-19 vaccinations across more than 40 centralised vaccination clinics (CVCs). The TrackVax software, developed by GS1 Ireland was designed with the HSE teams to enable the tracking and reporting of each dose right to the point of vaccination.

Meanwhile, a recent demonstration of the tracking of plant room equipment for Facility Management at CHI Urgent Care Centre, Tallaght University Hospital, showed how globally unique GS1 identifiers — for assets, people and locations — aided the management and maintenance of critical equipment for air handling and the supply of medical gases.

Sustainability benefits

By waving goodbye to paper-based processes, traceable practices can also be sustainable, explains CEO Mike Byrne.

“True sustainability is impossible without information. Traceability allows information to be gathered very easily and efficiently. These efficiencies lead to better waste management and more reliable information to track sustainability measures. You can’t achieve sustainability without proper measurements.”

Next article