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Barcode Education » Health Industry Bar Code (HIBC)
History and Description
In 1983 HIBCC was provided its initial mandate for the health care industry: develop a uniform bar code labeling standard for products shipped to hospitals. This relatively straight-forward concept represented a dramatic potential for the entire industry. By agreeing to place a consistent pattern of computer-readable bar codes on their products, manufacturers would provide a control mechanism that would yield enormous benefits to both their hospital customers and distributors.

The mandate to develop the standard grew out of a task force hosted by the American Hospital Association and composed of numerous other health care trade organizations, including those which ultimately founded HIBCC. Bar code technology had already proven a valuable tool for reducing labor costs and human error in other industries, such as retailing. In health care, the potential was even greater because of the impact errors can have on the quality of patient care.

The task force ultimately created the Health Industry Bar Code (HIBC) Standard, composed of two parts:

Part One, the HIBC Supplier Labeling Standard, is the basis for the Universal Product Number, and covers the formats used by suppliers of healthcare products.

Part Two, the HIBC Provider Applications Standard coves the formats used for internal labeling by health care providers themselves. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved both standards.

The following year HIBCC was formed to administer the standard and issue the Labeler Identification Codes (LICs), which identify individual manufacturers or healthcare providers and are included within each bar code. The LIC database now additionally provides the identifiers which are key elements in EDI transaction message formats and the HIBCC Universal Product Number Repository (UPN®).

Automatic Identification technology changes rapidly. Advances in hardware have made it possible for "scanners" to understand multiple types of bar code symbols, and text including those which are used for small-package and unit-of-use labeling. These developments have in turn made bar code use far more useful and valuable to the industry.

HIBCC's Automatic Identification Technical Committee meets regularly to assure that the standard remains up-to-date and fully incorporates these advances. The committee is broadly staffed by individuals who represent manufacturers, distributors, health care providers, and companies which develop and provide bar code equipment.

The standard has been widely adopted on a global basis by both the medical and dental industries. In Europe, dental products are required to be labeled with HIBCC bar codes. Recent surveys show that the majority of healthcare products with bar coding are using the HIBC Standard. In 1988, the European Health Industry Business Communications Council (EHIBCC) was formed to serve as a partner to HIBCC and administer the standard in Europe. Numerous companies serving international markets have since adopted the standard, which has been recognized by CEN, the European standards coordinating organization. HIBCC Standards use FACT Data Identifiers, a global ISO Standard for bar coding in use by a multitude of industries, including Blood and Blood Products (ISBT), Transportation, Electronics, Automotive, Steel and others.

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