Medical devices should be traceable by means of blockchain

  • For the first time, hospitals and suppliers are using a block chain to process orders for medical products
  • The supply chain for medical devices thus becomes digitalizable and traceable
  • Increased safety for patients
  • Blockchain allows the integration of all participants into the digital supply chain and thus the step to Supply Chain 4.0

For the first time, orders for medical products were successfully processed via Blockchain. The Cantonal Hospital Winterthur, the Cantonal Hospital Baden, the University Children’s Hospital Zurich and the Spitalregion Fürstenland Toggenburg together with the two medical device suppliers Anandic System Medical AG and ITRIS Medical AG carried out these orders on a trial basis. The Zurich start-up company Xatena AG provided the necessary infrastructure.

The path of a medical product becomes traceable
Today, the traceability of medical devices is hardly efficient and can hardly be guaranteed trustworthy for all parties. Various implant and counterfeit scandals have revealed that the risk is borne by the patients.

The infrastructure tested by hospitals makes it possible to trace the route taken by a medical device. The transaction steps in the supply chain are stored in the block chain in an unchangeable way and with a common consensus.

With the new Medical Device Regulation (MDR), medical devices will always have to have a Unique Device Identification (UDI) number. This allows a medical device to be uniquely identified in the supply chain. The block chain also makes it possible to track the transaction steps. Only together do the two factors make a traceable supply chain for each medical device possible. This directly serves patient safety.

Digital integration of all supply chain participants becomes feasible
The block chain-based infrastructure allows the parties to place medical device orders without transaction intermediaries or direct connection. The network approach also allows the integration of all actors involved in the supply chain on a common basis of trust. In other words, from the manufacturer to smart logistics and, in the future, to the patient file, it will be possible to design a secure and traceable supply chain for medical devices. The technological and regulatory means are now in place to implement this vision for improved patient safety.

Industry standards on sustainable infrastructure
The order processing included all message formats required for the transaction in accordance with the GS1 standard (Switzerland: GS1 FG BiG Switzerland Ideal Message Healthcare, EDI 3.1 XML), which is aimed at in the healthcare sector. The Blockchain is a Permissioned Blockchain based on hyperledger technology. The infrastructure was developed by Xatena in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, course of studies in computer science.