Uniform tracking standard will revolutionize healthcare purchasing nationwide


Most pathologists and clinical laboratory managers are not aware that implementation of global location numbers (GLNs) will occur in just a few months. Every healthcare provider in the United States and many other nations will get a unique GLN.

The entire purchasing and shipping side of healthcare is poised to adopt a universal standard that will ensure the precise delivery of products to their final destinations. Clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups will no longer experience delays caused by lost or incorrectly delivered supplies. At least that’s the hope of most of the nation’s major group purchasing organizations (GPO).

global location numbering barcodes for laboratories

Coming soon, global location numbering for clinical laboratories.

Nearly two months ahead of schedule, the Health Industry Group Purchasing Organization (HIGPA) has announced its readiness to move forward with the adoption of global location numbers (GLN) that will identify the exact location of every healthcare provider in the United States.

A GLN is a unique location identifier defined as a “GS1 standards-based, globally unique, 13-digit number used to identify locations and supply chain partners, and can be used to identify:

  • “a functional entity (hospital laboratory, pharmacy or accounting department),
  • “a physical entity (warehouse or hospital wing or nursing station), or,
  • “a legal entity (health system corporation).”

GLN numbers are provided by GLN Registry for Healthcare®, the organization that maintains a registry of U.S.-based healthcare facilities and their corresponding GLN information (e.g., name, address, class of trade).

Participating GPOs include:

Dark Daily published a detailed report on this initiative on June 2 in an ebriefing titled “Hospitals, Clinical Labs, and Pathology Groups Will Soon Adopt Global Location Numbers.”

The adoption of GLNs by GPOs and their channel partners will create a de facto standard on which the entire healthcare purchasing industry will operate. The expectation is that the new standard will provide “greater safety, efficiency and cost-savings to the U.S. healthcare system.”

“This is a quiet change that will have an enormous impact,” said Curtis Rooney, President of HIGPA. “Right now there is no reliable system in place to know where essential healthcare providers are located. The adoption of GLNs by GPOs is the first step toward better ensuring that the right products are delivered to the right location. It is important that all healthcare supply chain entities also adopt these standards.”

Rooney further stated that “knowing the location of healthcare products will speed product recalls and better ensure that patients aren’t treated with the wrong medical supplies.” Also, he said, “the country will be better equipped, in the event of a public health crisis, to rapidly locate essential healthcare providers and medical supplies.”

Next, HIGPA intends to implement global trade item numbers (GTIN) by December 31, 2012. GTINs provide a standard, unique item identifier for every medical product in use. The combination of GLNs and GTINs will greatly improve the delivery of supplies across the entire healthcare continuum.

This is another example of a health industry-wide improvement initiative that has the potential to help clinical laboratories and pathology groups improve the management of their supply chain. It is also another example of how global initiatives will contribute to more standardization of healthcare across national borders.

Related Information:

Group Purchasing Organizations Announce Readiness to Adopt Standards to Identify Healthcare Provider Locations

“Hospitals, Clinical Labs, and Pathology Groups Will Soon Adopt Global Location Numbers