We believe standards make sense for healthcare and for our business. About a decade ago, one of our sales and distribution companies was trying to efficiently manage the inventory of multiple Cook manufacturing companies. But none of our manufacturers used the same product-numbering system, and that made doing business difficult.
To solve this problem, we could have relabeled products and maintained an item cross-reference. But that would have been a manual, labor-intensive, error-prone process and would have required us to put an additional barcode on our packaging. So relabeling wasn’t a good option. We knew we had to do something. Our lack of a standardized product-numbering system was a problem for many of our customers too.
So we chose one product-numbering standard for our entire global product catalog. We chose the GS1 standards because, at the time, they were the only standards that were recognized worldwide. We also created our Shared Customer Service Center to give customers one point of contact for any Cook product, regardless of which Cook company manufactures it.
Implementing the GS1 standards wasn’t easy. Assigning GTINs to our products affected every part of our organization. Gaining the necessary alignment within our company took time. We also needed a plan to handle any returned inventory that was not GS1 compliant. Work on this project has taken almost a decade to complete.
For Cook Medical, all of our effort to implement GTINs was worth it. GTINs simplify inventory management and improve the quality of our information. They are also a step toward automated inventory replenishment and, when they’re used in patient records, they can help improve patient safety. Manufacturers, healthcare providers and patients will benefit from using a standard like GS1.
We’re proud to be able to have met the January 1, 2013 GTIN Sunrise. It’s one of the ways that Cook Medical has worked to build a better healthcare supply chain.