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Barcode scanning in healthcare: Expert Paper now available

Posted by Zebra EMEA

November 4, 2015 at 4:26 AM

We’ve just launched our latest expert paper on barcode scanning in the healthcare sector. It looks into the problems being caused by the use of different barcodes across the industry and how these can be resolved in order to truly maximise the benefits of scanning technology.

The healthcare industry has made significant advancements towards better, more efficient and safer patient care thanks to barcode scanning. Starting life as punch cards used in supermarkets, the barcode has since come a long way. Today, barcodes are used across various industries and have revolutionised the process of tracking and identification.

The healthcare industry in particular has embraced the barcode as a way to track and identify medicines, but as the technology has been adopted across the world and in different organisations what was once meant to make the lives of clinicians easier has now begun to cause serious problems. Every time a country has adopted the technology, it has created its own barcode format. Manufacturers and distributors have then used their own, separate label types. Ultimately, this has led to different types of code being used across the clinical environment and in some cases, on the same product.

The fundamental benefit of barcode scanning is the potential for improved accuracy and efficiency, yet the current system means that the wrong barcodes may be read with the wrong scanners which in turn leads to a more complicated processes that has the potential for error. As a result, there is now a widespread consensus that the sector needs to adopt standard barcode systems if it is to maximise the benefits of scanning technology and in turn, prevent the serious errors resulting from the current system.

Legislators and key organisations in the healthcare sector are recognising the benefit of using GS1 compliant 2D barcodes and the move towards their use is gathering pace. This standardised system of barcode scanning will dramatically improve patient care whilst also helping clinicians save time and money.

With a standardised system in place, the healthcare industry can then start to explore the full scope of what barcode scanning can offer. Accurate data capture and greater visibility across the supply chain will improve the whole process of administering medications. Hospitals and clinicians will be able to check that the right medicine is being dispensed to the right patient, by the correct clinician, at the right time. The risk of errors will be reduced, patient care optimised and clinical records improved. These processes can then be expanded across clinical settings, from doctors’ practices to care homes, and the insight this data will provide can be used by public health organisations to improve care and the industry as a whole.

Indeed, looking ahead,  the technology will increasingly be taken outside the clinical setting and into the patients’ homes, with smartphones being used to remind patients when to take their medicine and allowing them to scan the medication itself to bring up the electronic prescription, further supporting the focus on both home and preventive care.


Download our Expert Paper to gain a full understanding of the problems the industry is currently facing and how a standard barcode system can help to solve these issues, with reference to interviews with clinicians and executives from healthcare organisations and pharmaceutical firms. Click here to download your copy today.



Topics: Healthcare, Barcodes, EMEA