I’m going to be persistent on this press release by HL7 and GS1. Here’s a redux of the “big news” post I did that went over like one of those cheap balloons you grab at the checkout counter at the grocery store for your youngest and it’s dead on the living room floor that afternoon. This is potentially the most important single piece of news about GS1 adoption in the US I’ve read this year, just by itself alone, so bear with me while I explore how to communicate why I think that’s true. And, good gracious, feel free to disagree when I’m done.
I ask you to imagine: the US Interstate system and all of the local roads that lead in and out of it. Imagine each city has its own reason for being its own destination. That cars are traveling this interstate with very specific destinations: people want to get to places and not just any place and not just in any car: they want their destination, their car. Now imagine that each of those cities are different departments in a clinical environment. Use the number of USA states if that’s easier (problem is, I think there are way more than 50 medical specialties).
[Editor's note: I once used this "freeway into a city" imagery at a start-up to convey the significance of a complex software product that was also a new category of technology called an "interface engine". The software product is called Cloverleaf -- it also uses HL7 -- and everybody got what was a very complex infrastructure product because of the simple image. I'm hoping this will work twice.]
Now each of these cars have a unique license plate that was issued by its state of origin and can be tracked back to a particular owner, lien holder, model number, all that stuff that comes with having a car with a license plate on it.
HL7 is the interstate system and related laws, regulations and protocols. It’s how all the computer systems in the hospital communicate with each other. They’ve announced they are now including GS1 compliance in the standard. GS1 is the license plate. By bundling GS1 codes into HL7 messages, it becomes the key to linking barcoded items directly to patient care and it happens within the systems themselves.