Developing a UDI Strategy That Works


Fri Apr 15 10:01:00 CDT 2016
Corwin Hee
Master Data Management Program Director, Information Technology Group, Medtronic

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but here are a few tips to get you started


Unique Device Identification (UDI) represents a complex, yet necessary evolution in the way we catalog and categorize items for patient care. But how do we go about such a massive undertaking — and why does it matter to you?


Adopting a common, worldwide system for product identification will simplify communication and offer significant benefits to manufacturers, providers, patients, and regulatory bodies.


But UDI is no trivial exercise. Most hospitals have 20,000 to 30,000 items in their master lists. And most items are handled in different packaging levels as they move through a facility. The FDA’s introduction of unique production identifiers for individual items adds even more complexity.


And while some have interpreted the FDA’s effort as a way to introduce rationing to the healthcare environment, implementation of this system must not be about limiting choices for clinicians. The goal should always be getting what the clinician needs — when they need it.


Focus on the big picture, but start small


By focusing on reducing waste and enhancing efficiency, we can help build a better UDI system. Here are two strategies to help integrate a UDI system into your facility — and achieve meaningful results:


  1. Concentrate initial implementation efforts on strategic areas. Gaining expertise in important theaters like the OR, for example, will allow you to scale a UDI system throughout your facility in a more efficient and effective way.
  2. Focus on identifying duplicate items within your system. They’re undoubtedly there. And UDI data can bring them to light.


We’ve partnered with smaller hospital systems to use UDI data to purge multiple copies of the same item. And some facilities have eliminated hundreds of thousands of dollars in excess inventory.


Hospitals and health systems will want to advance to more sophisticated tactics as they gain familiarity with these new approaches. And we’ll continue to partner with them to develop new best practice models — and openly share them so we can take healthcare Further, Together.


Corwin Hee is a Master Data Management Program Director in the Information Technology Group at Medtronic who leads several GS1 initiatives.