Barcodes are ubiquitous these days and the ever-expanding healthcare industry is no exception to this trend. In other words, the introduction of barcode technology has indeed helped the industry in India to improve its service quality and safety standards.
According to a senior official from Zebra Technologies, the leading makers of Point of sale receipt printers, barcode scanners, barcode printers, mobile printers, etc to retail and non-retail industry, the usage of barcode has gone beyond its traditional retail applications and has now entered into newer markets.
“Barcodes are totally ubiquitous in today’s technology driven world. The technology for reading them too has become cost-effective. Since the introduction of 2D Barcoding, the quantum of information that can be stored in barcodes has become pretty impressive,” says Zebra’s senior technology director for the APAC region, Wayne Harper.
Barcoding of critical information is not only cost-effective but also improves healthcare operations and reduces potential risks, according to Harper.
"Zebra has taken health experts from Gdansk University Health Centre to implement ID barcoding. This will cut expenditure by 20 per cent apart from improving the processes and increasing lab testing efficiency," he adds.
For healthcare centres, maintaining accuracy of records is very important, and digital-based approach through barcode labeling can eliminate many of the possible errors that can occur due to manual entries, Harper says.
In India one of the major problems the maternity wards in government hospitals and private nursing homes are facing is swapping of babies due to improper tagging at the time of birth. With Barcodes tagging linking mothers with their newborns, the potential mix-ups can be avoided, he says, adding, “Further, barcodes with vital information can be printed on plastic labels, which are legible, long lasting and a viable alternative for handwritten wristbands.
According to a study, of the several thousands of mix-ups instances reported world-wide, most of them were due to human errors. Also, there have been instances where wrong medication was administered to wrong child. Barcoding newborns and mothers on lab samples and medicines can avoid these situations. Alternatively, wristbands with RFID chips are used to track both mothers and babies.
Ensuring accurate specimen handling
Handling blood samples in hospitals and test centres could be a harrowing experience, particularly if you are asked to verify the information on the samples which are handwritten. Barcode technology can improvise the efficiency, accuracy, reduce errors and ensure that minimum time is spent for the procedure.
“Healthcare facilities are using barcode scanners and compact printers to eliminate the possibility of specimen misidentification and other human errors,” Harper explains, adding, “To achieve this, instant barcode labelling and documentation of samples at the point of collection are mandatory.”
As technology is getting advanced day by day, future specimen labeling may use temperature sensors to ensure samples are well protected in optimum conditions, or RFID tags are used to track samples as they travel between facilities.
Barcode technology in healthcare industry is more than just replacing manual tagging and labelling. It’s about achieving accuracy, efficiency and improving patients’ safety.