The Global Language of Business

Safer, More Efficient Care Starts with a Simple Scan - Canada’s Largest Market Pushes for Global Standards in Healthcare

On May 16, an expert panel for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care released its recommendations through the Ontario Health Sector Supply Chain Strategy: Advancing Healthcare in Ontario, Optimizing the Healthcare Supply Chain – A New Model.

Among the recommendations to the Ontario Ministry of Health is a strong endorsement for the application of “an internationally recognized bar coding standard that provides full traceability of products, including pharmaceuticals, to the patient.”

The report foresees that with “adoption of global standards in healthcare for product traceability, Ontario will significantly advance patient care, quality and safety.” Such a finding follows the lead of the healthcare sector in other countries and Canadian provinces identified in the report, which are implementing the GS1 standards to address the same objectives.
Being most commonly recognized for the barcode, which is used over six billion times every day across a wide range of applications and sectors, GS1 commends the panel for recommending the implementation of “an internationally recognized bar coding standard” in Ontario. GS1 is the world’s leading user-driven supply chain standards organisation, responsible for developing global standards. As the local member organisation, GS1 Canada assists organizations across the country with standards implementation.

Through the traceability provided by the implementation of GS1 global standards, the objective stated in the report can be achieved, and products can be tracked from manufacturers, to procurement then through to individual patients and their electronic medical records. This common, universal language of data is the foundation for a safer, more efficient healthcare system that saves time, money and – most importantly – helps caregivers to protect patients.

“Implementing global standards throughout the Ontario healthcare sector will deliver the significant improvements in patient safety and cost efficiencies already seen in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States,” says John King, former Assistant Deputy Minister for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, and former Senior Vice President of Operations at St. Michael’s Hospital.

“Healthcare providers work hard to deliver the safest possible care to all of their patients and to do this they need the right products on hand every time,” says Marianne Timmons, President Industry Engagement, GS1 Global Office. “We know that the implementation of GS1 global standards can be an added help for healthcare providers to ensure surety of supply and allow the product to be related to the patient, increasing patient safety.”

As experts in the execution of global standards in industry sectors such as Pharmacy and Foodservice, GS1 Canada can help healthcare groups across the country understand the implications of the reports’ recommendations and learn how to implement global standards within their organisations. Visit for more information.

Pdf version of the full press release