How Do Barcodes Help to Improve Healthcare Management
Barcode Scanners
08-09-2017 00:00:00
How Do Barcodes Help to Improve Healthcare Management

Barcodes have become an invincible portion of quality healthcare in the modern era. Till recently, patient’s treatment, medication procedures and other administrative activities have been taken care of by linear barcodes which are the simple single dimensional barcodes having rows of black and white lines.


EAN barcodes, Code 128 as well as Datamatrix Code are some of the commonly used linear barcodes.


Linear barcodes are very useful not only for the medical industry, but also for several retail businesses which include grocery  stores, electrical and electronic appliance shops, bakery stores and several such retail enterprises where barcode labels are affixed on the products to be scanned for billing, stock taking or logistics purposes. 


Linear barcodes are easy to scan as the lines or stripes are vertical. Scanners can scan barcodes even if they are placed on curved surfaces such as drug bottles or test tubes. Linear barcodes are compatible with almost all types of scanners. However, there are several pitfalls which make linear barcodes unsuitable for medical industry. 


One of the biggest drawbacks of linear barcodes is that low data storage. Also, if there is any damage to linear barcodes, scanners can’t identify the barcodes which makes them useless and unviable. Since more critical information can’t be stored in linear barcodes that are not error proof in case of damage, medical industry doesn’t prefer linear barcode technology these days but use 2D barcodes for critical patient care, patient identity and verification, drug management, hospital management and clinical analysis. 


Two dimensional barcodes are graphical images that can store details both horizontally and vertically. They are also referred as Quick Response (QR) Barcodes as they facilitate fast access to data. Two dimensional barcodes have many advantages. They can store huge amount of data – more than linear barcodes and are damage proof and highly useful, reliable and flexible for the medical industry. 


2D barcodes can be safely used on all curved surfaces, bottom of tubes or on bottle caps. One of the major advantages of 2D barcodes is that they help to control and regulate medication of each patient thereby avoiding human error, mix ups and wrong treatment, which can be fatal. 2D barcodes can be scanned correctly even if the barcodes are damaged. 


Two dimensional barcodes are ideal for sample collections in hospitals and test labs. In hospitals there are thousands of patients coming in every day and each one has different medication procedures. 2D Codes are used to store information of each patient which can be used later for correct and safe treatment. 


Apart from ensuring sterilization of each surgical instrument, two dimensional barcodes helps hospitals access and regulate popular instruments for each doctor available at every floor of the building. 


So, 2D barcodes are indispensable for medical profession. Apart from offering astute safety to patients, they allow top quality critical patient care by reducing possible human errors. Nurses are more often than not tired due to overwork and hence tend to make mistake in medication by giving wrong dose to wrong patient. 


2D barcodes safeguard patients, automating several health care treatment procedures, reduce fatal errors due to mix-ups, and hence save hospital management, doctors and nurses from getting  penalized for mistakes and lapses.

-K Ramanathan

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