GS1 US has unveiled new guidelines to help industry transition to more-advanced two-dimensional (2D) barcodes on product packaging in the U.S. healthcare, apparel, and general merchandise sectors.

The guideline, “Unlocking Benefits of GS1 DataMatrix in Non-Retail Healthcare,” is designed to assist non-retail healthcare stakeholders in implementing GS1 DataMatrix 2D barcodes in non-retail channels, such as hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, infusion centers, long-term care facilities and ambulances.

“As healthcare products are sold in both retail and non-retail environments, a coordinated approach to 2D barcodes ensures labeling consistency and efficiency for brand owners,” said Melanie Nuce-Hilton, senior vice president, community engagement, GS1 US. “GS1 DataMatrix is already being adopted across healthcare to comply with regulation; to avoid confusion and align on a single barcode, GS1 DataMatrix is recommended by industry as a preferred data carrier for healthcare products across both areas.”

Key benefits of GS1 DataMatrix include efficient recall management, improved inventory management, enhanced traceability and support for electronic health records. This additional document also intends to provide information to support considerations for both labelers and their downstream supply chain trading partners regarding capabilities, possible data needs, print and scanning technologies and the consumption of data.

The guidance for implementing 2D barcodes, such as QR codes and GS1 DataMatrix, will enhance supply chain visibility, efficiency and patient and consumer safety, according to GS1 US.

“As technology and consumer expectations for more information about products evolve, the demand for enhanced product information goes beyond the traditional role of UPC barcodes,” said Nuce-Hilton. “While some apparel and general merchandise brands already utilize 2D barcodes with GS1 Digital Link for consumer engagement, there is a pressing need to extend this capability to POS to allow for a single standardized way to meet supply chain needs and consumer requirements.”