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The Visible Value Blog

The Future of Barcode Scanning in Healthcare

Posted by Zebra EMEA

January 19, 2016 at 10:03 AM


The advent of the barcode represented a breakthrough for many industries, from retail to transport to healthcare, yet there are a number of problems associated with barcodes that regulators and organisations are looking to solve. The root cause of these issues is that various industries, companies and organisations have adopted the technology and each has created its own type of barcode. The use of multiple barcode types can take up valuable time when it comes to identifying which symbol to scan. It can also result in inaccuracies if the wrong label is scanned and additional costs if different scanners are required for different codes. These issues impact the healthcare industry in particular, as they can have a severe impact on patient care.

The solution to these problems is a standardised system of barcode labelling. This will not only simplify the process for healthcare professionals, but also make it more affordable to implement scanning systems. If more medical organisations adopt the technology, more medicines and medical devices will carry detailed information on barcodes, enabling the industry to more easily embrace better workflows and care practices.

Accurate, fail-safe distribution of medication

The process of standardising barcode scanning will enable accurate data capture and visibility across the supply chain, thereby improving the whole process from the point of dispensing to the point of care. 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. This will ultimately lead to a better standard of patient care, improve clinical records and reduce error. Furthermore, these processes are not just confined to hospitals, they can be used across clinical settings, from doctors’ practices to care homes.

Valuable insight for public health organisations

As barcode scanning is adopted across the industry, a vast amount of data will then be available as information is collected from the entire supply chain, from warehouses to pharmacy, test-lab to bedside. This data will then become invaluable to public health organisations as it can be analysed to spot trends for public health purposes. For example, it could provide a better understanding of how seasonal viruses develop, or even how a pandemic may evolve. This insight will help public health organisations anticipate needs in medication supplies, secure medicinal products and adapt communication to support public health policies.

Improved medical devices

Similarly, the adoption of standardised barcode scanning will bring great benefits to the manufacture and use of medical devices. The ability to accurately read a device’s barcode will simplify the processes in the most cost efficient manner, reducing administration time and preventing typing errors, whilst also improving safety, traceability and accuracy.

Integration with consumer technology to help outpatients

Lastly, the benefits will stretch beyond medical settings and into patients’ homes. Outpatients will be able to use smartphones and similar devices to remind them when to take their medicine or to scan their medicine to ensure they are following the electronic prescription. In addition, patients will be able to scan barcodes on healthcare equipment using wearable devices, such as blood pressure monitors, with the data then being shared over the internet with their patient record.

In order to harness the benefits of barcode scanning a standardised system needs to implemented. Only at that point can we begin to transform the healthcare industry. Our new expert paper explores this in more detail, simply click here or the download button below to get your copy today:

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Topics: Healthcare, Barcodes, EMEA