The Scan4Safety is an initiative implemented in healthcare in the United Kingdom. Launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in 2016, this innovation aims to enhance patient safety, improve operational efficiency, and reduce costs within National Health Service (NHS) hospitals. 

Scan4Safety is focused on end-to-end scanning of barcodes, contributing significantly to inventory management by improving supply chain visibility and enhancing patient safety through accurate point-of-care scanning and streamlining data entry processes and documentation.  

Key objectives

Key components and objectives of the locally implemented Scan4Safety include:

The heart of Scan4Safety is the implementation of unique barcodes for patients, medical equipment, and products used in healthcare settings. Each barcode is associated with detailed information, ensuring accurate identification and tracking.

By using barcodes to match patients with their treatments, medications, and surgical procedures, the program significantly reduces the risk of errors and enhances patient safety. This minimises the chances of administering incorrect medications or procedures.

Scan4Safety streamlines hospital processes by automating inventory management, reducing paperwork, and eliminating manual data entry. This increases operational efficiency and frees up healthcare staff for patient care.

Locally implemented Scan4Safety can lead to cost savings through better inventory control, reduction in errors, and more efficient resource allocation, effectively.

Local implementations of S4S enables in-depth data analytics through barcode scanning which can help identify areas for improvement, monitor the effectiveness of treatments, and optimize resource allocation.

Scan4Safety promotes transparency in healthcare processes. It allows healthcare providers to track the movement of products and medications from manufacturer to patient, increasing accountability and reducing the potential for fraud or waste.

The Scan4Safety is designed to be scalable, allowing hospitals of various sizes and specialties to adopt its principles and technologies, regardless of their current IT infrastructure.

By minimising errors, and enhancing the overall efficiency of healthcare delivery, Scan4Safety contributes to reduced waiting times, and an improved patient experience, resulting in higher patient satisfaction levels.

Identification: In the event of a recall, healthcare facilities can quickly identify affected items by scanning their barcodes, making it easier to locate and remove them from use.

Efficiency: When a recall is initiated healthcare providers can swiftly and accurately determine which patients have been exposed to the recalled product. This allows for timely patient notifications and interventions.

Data Analytics: The data collected through Scan4Safety can be utilised to track the distribution of recalled items, assess the impact on patient care, and monitor the progress of the recall.

Patient Safety: By reducing the risk of administering recalled or unsafe products, Scan4Safety contributes to improved patient safety.

Compliance: Scan4Safety provides a reliable means of verifying that recalled items have been properly removed from inventory and patient care which helps ensure compliance with recall notifications and regulatory requirements.

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Overall, the Scan4Safety represents a significant step forward in modernising healthcare delivery. It leverages technology to improve patient outcomes, increase operational efficiency, and reduce costs, ultimately making healthcare more accessible and safer for patients in England and potentially serving as a model for similar initiatives worldwide.

The role of NHS England in promoting Scan4Safety

NHS England is promoting and overseeing the Scan4Safety program’s implementation across NHS Trusts.

We provide advice and guidance to NHS organisations interested in implementing the Scan4Safety initiative locally:

Providing Advice and Guidance: The team offers expert advice and guidance to healthcare organisations on how to implement the Scan4Safety effectively. This includes helping them understand the program’s principles, goals, and best practices.

How To Get Started

Knowledge Sharing: Facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration among healthcare organisations that have implemented or are considering implementing Scan4Safety. This sharing of experiences and best practices can accelerate the adoption of Scan4Safety.

Compliance and Regulatory Support: Helping healthcare organisations navigate compliance and regulatory requirements related to the use of barcode technology in healthcare by providing connections to the relevant regulators and other partners working on relevant initiatives.

Monitoring and Evaluation: NHS England can assist in setting up monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assess the impact of Scan4Safety locally. This includes tracking benefits such as patient safety improvements, efficiency gains, and cost savings achieved through the program.

In summary, NHS England serves as a resource for NHS organisations by offering expertise, support, and guidance related to the Scan4Safety implementation process. Our efforts are aimed at ensuring that the benefits of Scan4Safety, such as improved patient safety and operational efficiency, are realised at the local level within healthcare facilities.

Scan4Safety and Outcomes Registry

The work surrounding Scan4Safety shares important links with other national programmes, including the Outcomes Registry work.

The Government’s Mandate to NHS England stipulates that by March 2024, all trusts should adopt barcode scanning of high-risk medical devices and submission to the national, mandatory Medical Device Outcome Registry which is a database designed to collect, store, and analyse data related to patient outcomes, treatments, and interventions. Its primary purpose is to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of healthcare interventions and the quality of care.

The Outcomes Registry programme focuses on ensuring the collection of information related to high-risk medical procedures within clinical registries improving monitoring and improvement of patient outcomes.

Scan4Safety can support data input into registries. Scan4Safety helps ensure the correct procedures for patients at the appropriate time and offers an uncomplicated means of inputting this data into clinical registries. The collaborative effort in these two domains serves to minimise errors and enhance the effectiveness of data collection related to medical implants and subsequent patient outcomes. Together, the two programmes aim to provide a more comprehensive understanding of healthcare processes, interventions, and their effects on patient care.

Scan4Safety Partners

The Scan4Safety program in the United Kingdom involves partnerships and collaborations with various organisations to support its implementation and objectives. Some key partner organisations and stakeholders associated with Scan4Safety include:

GS1 healthcare case studies

GS1 UK is a not-for-profit organization that provides standards and solutions for product identification and barcoding. It collaborates with Scan4Safety to establish and maintain barcode standards for healthcare products and equipment. Many regulatory authorities, including the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK, require the use of GS1 standards for product identification and tracking in healthcare. Compliance with these standards is essential to meet regulatory requirements.

Inventory Management Solution full article

NHS Supply Chain is working on the Inventory Management Solution programme which will enable local system integrations and point of care scanning. That in turn will support and accelerate wider Scan4Safety adoption in the NHS trusts by providing inventory visibility of high-risk medical devices in high-cost areas of the healthcare organisation.

A small team within TSAS looks after the NHS Standards (DAPB0108: Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) and  DCB1077: AIDC for Patient Identification[AS1] [KF2] ) relating to Scan4Safety and maintains the formal relationship between NHS England and GS1 UK. This centrally managed agreement between the two organisations enables all NHS Organisations to generate GS1 Standards (e.g. create DCB1077 compliant patient wrist bands).

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulates medical devices under the Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021 (MMD Act) and the Medical Devices Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No 618, as amended) (MDR 2002). 

Under these regulations, medical devices placed on the GB market have to be registered with the MHRA, essentially creating a ‘master’ list of all devices in the UK. One of the data elements collected at device registration is the Unique Device Identifier (UDI), which allows for clear and unambiguous identification of the device.

MHRA is working with Scan4Safety to disseminate this master list of devices to sites in order to provide a reliable basis for to share information and the realise the benefits as detailed in the evidence report.

These partner organisations collaborate to support the adoption of barcode technology and best practices in healthcare settings, with the overarching goal of improving patient safety, operational efficiency, and cost-effectiveness within the NHS.