GIC©: A Multidimensional Classification System For Clinical Products

Supply chain teams rely on classification systems to more efficiently and effectively improve patient outcomes while also improving costs. The use of classifications helps with supply chain teams’ category strategy as they help to compare products accurately, to quickly search a mountainous amount of data, and to align specific products to improve patient outcomes in a standardized way.

Moreover, healthcare supply chain teams utilize medical device classification systems to identify variables that determine the success or failure of a medical device. It is, however, beneficial for hospitals to have more than one classification system, as some systems are helpful across different areas of the hospital.

Five Most Common Classification Systems

There are many classification systems that health systems can choose from. Five of the most common include the:

  • United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Product Code
  • Global Medical Device Nomenclature (GMDN)
  • Universal Medical Device Nomenclature System (UMDNS)
  • Generic Implant Classification (GIC©)

The robust nature (or lack thereof) of these systems drives all other data work and analysis in the supply chain. If health systems are relying on classification systems that were not designed for the specificity of clinical products and physician preference items, then it will impact the quality of its downstream analysis.

As an example, we explore how using UNSPSC for medical devices will result in missing data.

Although other classification systems are helpful across all areas of the hospital, few do the hard work needed in clinical product data classification and PPI like the GIC classification does.

Out of the several options, the GIC classification is considered the gold standard – especially as the system supports the calculation of constructs at the procedural level. Additionally, while many classification systems are only one to two dimensional, GIC’s multidimensional system allows it to work with accuracy in clinical product data.

This in turn enables hospitals to compare orthopedic products in a timesaving, cost-effective way that clinicians can also trust.

What is the Generic Implant Classification System?

GIC’s Background Story

The Generic Implant Classification, also known as GIC, was originally developed by Stan Mendenhall of Orthopedic Network News starting in 1992. He created it specifically for medical devices.

Before developing this system, Stan was often receiving price lists from hospitals and realized that in order to compare different implant systems effectively, he had to develop an efficient way to group the implants together.

He then started with IMS America, a market research firm based in Plymouth Meeting, PA, in which he adapted and modified to develop GIC. Initially designed mostly for hip and knee implants, it was then expanded to shoulder and spinal implants, as well as instruments. Orthopedics account for most of these medical devices.

Today, GIC has expanded beyond orthopedics – into the areas of cardiovascular, general surgery, and more.

GIC© as a Multidimensional Classification System

Compared to the UNSPSC or GMDN, which do not accommodate product specificity well, GIC is a multidimensional classification system which is beneficial for classifying clinical products.

Each component is assigned a GIC code, and icons are provided to create a visual link to the product or device. Components can also be subclassified to add greater specificity.

Its multidimensional nature means it has multiple levels of classifications, sorted between sub-classifications Type 1 and Type 2, as noted in the image below. As such, GIC codes can be sub-classified to account for specific technologies – which are categorized as Type 1. These Type 1 categories can then be further categorized if necessary, such as “Stem,” “Body,” “1 Piece”, and “Temp” – which are considered Type 2.

GICs are also very specific in their numerical codes. When necessary, the major materials of devices are labeled as a two-digit code. However, for some devices, this material is not relevant and is not labeled.

Additionally, component sizes are also recorded when relevant. There are three separate sizes available for each part – but sizes are not always relevant for all devices like implanted stimulators.

Overall, these logical groupings make it easier for supply chain teams to obtain the necessary data.

A Classification System That Evolves With New Medical Devices

The GIC classification and assignment of GICs to new devices is an ongoing effort. When new technologies are developed, often the GIC classification must be modified to accommodate these changes – as was the case after growth nails were introduced.

With over one million parts from over 1,000 suppliers, there will be mis-classifications. As a result, the classifications are periodically reviewed and adjusted. They are also modified when problems are noted with our clients.

With over 30 years of data and experience, the GIC classification system is robust and comprehensive.

Additional Resources

Orthopedic Network News (ONN) is a great resource for further reading on this topic with quarterly issues on trends in spine, trauma, hips and knees, and extremities.

You can also try out our Lookup tool with a two week free trial, which allows supply chain and value analysis teams to research clinical products by GIC.