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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NEHTA’s National Product Catalogue (NPC) Still Rolling Along – Like A Glacier!

More news on the National Product Catalogue arrived a few days ago.

Pfizer Australia joins the NEHTA National Product Catalogue

7 October 2009. Australia’s number one consumer healthcare company and a leading provider of prescription medicines, Pfizer Australia, has committed to a national approach to e-health supply chain reform by including approximately 1000 products in NEHTA’s National Product Catalogue (NPC).

In line with NEHTA’s goal to drive the uptake of e-health systems nationally, the inclusion of an organisation like Pfizer Australia committing to being part of a primary source of data is a positive step.

Australia is one of the first countries in the world to develop a single, national product catalogue and it provides significant benefits for the Australian health sector. NEHTA’s NPC uniquely identifies healthcare products, including medicines and medical devices and equipment, and records important supply chain and clinical information about those products such as the components of products and pack sizes. Suppliers populate one catalogue with standard data and globally unique identifiers.

This product data, through the NPC, is then made available to procurement areas from public health departments and private organisations who have signed up to the NPC. The NPC reduces the duplication of effort and data errors which is particularly important in the healthcare supply chain where getting the right products at the right place and time can be critical to ensuring quality patient treatment.

It is NEHTA’s objective that the NPC will be the primary source of data for all health-related purchasing in Australia which will remove the need for around 750 public and 280 private hospitals (among other healthcare purchasers) to maintain their own product data.

To date, more than 225 healthcare suppliers have now loaded products to the NPC.

For more information on the Supply Chain work program go to


The press release is found here:


There is previous commentary provided on the progress of this glacial program found here:


and here:


and here:


The issue here is, of course, the spin in this release.

It says, very carefully, “To date, more than 225 healthcare suppliers have now loaded products to the NPC.” What it does not say is that these suppliers have loaded ALL their products and it does not point out that there were, even in the late 1990’s, over 700 significant suppliers in the pharmaceutical industry sector alone when the issue was examined by the PeCC study.

See here:


Also not mentioned is that in the 2006/07 Annual Report NEHTA said as one of its major outcomes:

“Australia’s National Product Catalogue was released, with over 50 of Australia’s top medical and pharmaceutical product suppliers taking advantage of the improved ability to communicate up-to-the-minute information about their products directly to current and potential customers.”

Over two years later we are now getting press releases when one supplier joins. At this pace the system will reach critical mass somewhere after 2015 I reckon.

At what point does the Auditor General decide to look at things like this I wonder.

In June 2007 NEHTA was claiming:

“What is happening?

  • Most large suppliers indicate they will be NPC compliant by 30 June 2007 –significant effort and resources invested.
  • States and Territories working to be able to utilise NPC data from 1 July 2007 –significant resources being invested –need the NPC populated for it to be a viable single source of data.”

Source: Ken Nobbs Presentation 27 June 2007.

Now in the new NEHTA Strategy (Oct 2009) we read:

Planned Actions (Till Mid 2011)

1. Deliver the NPC working with suppliers so that they are populating the NPC with product offerings;

2. Alignment of the NPC with the Australian Medicines Terminology;

3. Increase the adoption of the NPC by the private sector;

4. Extension of the adoption of the NPC with health Jurisdictions;

5. Rollout the e-Procurement solution with WA Health;

6. Rollout the e-Procurement solution across other Jurisdictions and promote uptake by the private sector; and

7. Investigation of further supply chain solutions for health, which may be leveraged from international experience and other industries.

I read this as saying we have really yet to get started 2 years later. Fixing the supply chain was in the original NEHTA mandate from now 5 years ago by the way.

This area actually matters and if properly done can save a lot of money – but clearly no one gives a hoot. Hopeless.


Note: "The PeCC Story: Project Electronic Commerce and Communication for HealthCare- 2000” seems to have disappeared from the web. It is a valuable document on what should be done with Supply Chain Management and its principles have been widely adopted in other areas. Sadly it seems to be rather stalled in Health.

Download here:

http://www.moreassoc.com.au/downloads/PeCC%20Story.pdf (2.7Meg)



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