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 in order to identify variables that determine the success or failure of a medical device. However, it is beneficial for hospitals to have more than one classification system, as some systems are helpful across different areas of the hospital. There are many classification systems that health systems can choose from. Five of the most common systems include the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Product Code, the Global Medical Device Nomenclature (GMDN), the Universal Medical Device Nomenclature System (UMDNS) and the 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.

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 for classifications, 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 1-2 dimensional, GIC’s multidimensional system allows it to work with accuracy in clinical product data. With GIC, hospitals are able to compare orthopedic products in a timesaving, cost-effective way that clinicians can also trust.

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.

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

GIC classifications are multidimensional, which means that it has multiple levels of classifications, as they are sorted between Type 1 and Type 2, which are called “subclassifications,” 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. Additionally, these Type 1 categories can be further categorized if necessary, such as “Stem,” “Body,” “1 Piece”, and “Temp” – which are considered as 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. Sizes are not always relevant for all devices – such as implanted stimulators. Overall, these logical groupings make it easier for supply chain teams to obtain the necessary data.