New Barcode Workflows for Nurses

Guest post by Doug Brown, vertical marketing manager, Honeywell Scanning & Mobility.

Doug Brown
Doug Brown

A creative group of nurses are helping uncover better ways to use barcode printers and scanners at the bedside. In the past, it was common to see barcode scanners mounted on workstation-on-wheel (WoW) carts behind the display and out of the way. It made perfect sense at a time when reading barcodes was a new and relatively uncommon task. Today, the frequency of reading barcodes at the bedside has dramatically increased and as the industry continues to adopt meaningful use Stage 2 this trend will continue.

Nurses using cordless barcode scanners quickly discovered that mounting it in an elevated, forward-facing orientation allowed them to fully benefit from the scanner’s “presentation mode” feature. Just like built-in scanners found at the grocery store, presentation mode scanning is faster because it eliminates the need to squeeze the trigger, and frees up the second hand for quickly handling items.

Thanks to high performance imaging technology, nurses can now use scanners that are suited specifically for hospital applications and are able to quickly read the toughest barcodes, such as clear IV bags or micro medication barcodes. Gone are the days of aligning that little red line so that it precisely dissects the barcode; today’s latest scanning technology brings a “squeeze-and-beep” solution to nurses fingertips.

Hospital workers have learned that selecting a cordless scanner can dramatically improve workflows at the bedside, as evidenced by the fact that more that 70 percent of hospitals purchasing  scanners recently have chosen the cordless options. The most significant advantage is the freedom of movement followed by the elimination of “cord snagging and tangling,” which can be critically important in an environment where you have patient IV lines and other monitoring equipment in the vicinity.

More than just performance, a lot of design work goes into creating a barcode scanner for healthcare environments. By going cordless, the scanner cable that notoriously drags on the floor, is eliminated from the cleaning routine. The time saved in cleaning alone has been justification enough for most hospitals to switch to cordless scanners.

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What’s Next for Health IT Right Now

Given the tremendous and on-going changes currently taking place in health IT, especially the recent delay in ICD-10, and the ever on-going issues surrounding meaningful use, we remain in a turbulent, yet revolutionary time in the industry. As changes continue to come and behaviors, habits, further reform is activated and enforced, there will only be more of a focus on where we are headed from a technology standpoint.

Given the multiple balls health IT leaders are currently juggling and the rapid changes they are facing from new technology and managing tools that were once thought to be saviors of the sector – patient portals come to mind – I and they are left to wonder what’s next for health IT. With that lingering question, I asked a few folks working directly in the space what they think will occupy the minds of health IT leaders for the short term.

Divan Dave, CEO, OmniMD

The delay in ICD-10 implementation was met with equal parts relief and frustration. As the healthcare IT industry is evolving, government and regulatory authorities have come up with several certifications to enhance the quality of care for patients. For example, meaningful use incentives have created an artificial market for dozens of immature EHR products. Many EHR vendors have been preoccupied with backlogged implementations and have neglected the usability and innovation of their EHR products. Most concerning to current EHR users are unmet pleas for sophisticated interfaces with other practice programs and complex connectivity, pacing with accountable care progresses and the rapid EHR adoption of mobile devices. Many popular “one size fits all” EHR products have failed to meet the needs of several medical specialties.

Distracted by the process of certifying their EHR products for Stage 2 of meaningful use, not all software vendors have been able to deliver on their Meaningful Use 2 promises to anxious providers; 40 percent of the practices are replacing their EHR systems, as their current systems are cumbersome to use, not integrated, not able to meet regulatory compliance, outdated, have interoperability challenges, inefficient customer support, lacks specialty specific workflow and are not mobile enabled.

Stacy Leidwinger
Stacy Leidwinger

Stacy Leidwinger, vice president of product marketing, RES Software
A top concern in healthcare right now is securing patient health records. Although the clinical details themselves contain little financial value, the records contain personal patient details that can easily result in stolen identity or credit card information.

In the US, nearly 3 trillion dollars per year is spent on healthcare, which translates to everyone from physicians and pharmacists to well-organized crime syndicates targeting healthcare, usually through the use of stolen patient records and identities.

Two of the weakest points in healthcare security are 1) people tending to underestimate security risks, therefore, becoming vulnerable to social engineering, and 2) the fact that endpoints can’t be physically secured in many cases while continuing to provide needed value. Patients need to take a more serious approach in choosing a healthcare organization by making it clear that they “trust” their provider.

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