Wireless RFID and Barcode Scanners Can Streamline Processes and Improve Accuracy, Saving Lives
Healthcare is one industry that cannot afford to stay still for long. If it weren’t for advances in our understanding of medicine, things like leeches, cocaine, heroin, lobotomies, arsenic, and mercury might all still be considered for a doctor to recommend. But medicine and treatment are not the only areas of healthcare with room to grow. The way that hospitals are run, for example, has boundless room for improvement. A more efficient model for hospital administration can not only save money, but reduce the number of clerical errors and ensure timelier, more effective treatment for patients. Using existing enterprise mobile technology with new and cutting-edge data collection systems, tools such as a wireless barcode scanner or RFID reader can streamline many aspects of hospital administration without sacrificing accuracy—in fact, accuracy is shown to be improved when using such solutions.
It Starts at Admission—or Sooner
When it comes to rethinking hospital administration, the obvious starting point is the point-of-admission. Admission bracelets that have a barcode printed on them have become common place, with some hospitals even adopting bracelets that take advantage of RFID, or radio frequency identification, to help keep a closer eye on a patient while they move through the hospital. Unlike with barcodes, an RFID tag is rewritable; this means that the information on it is not static, but can actually be modified with and RFID reader. While a barcode bracelet can allow access to patient information through a wireless barcode scanner, the information is only as up-to-date as the database, and if wireless connectivity is an issue—as it is in some older buildings—then the RFID tag becomes preferable, since up-to-date information can be accessed directly through the tag itself.
However, this upgrade in the way administrative tasks are done can actually begin before a patient is admitted to the hospital. It can start with the ambulance. For patients who are admitted after being aided by paramedics, treatment doesn’t begin at the hospital, and neither should the treatment history. However, it’s not uncommon for treatment received at the scene or in the ambulance to be overlooked at a later point. By issuing the barcode- or RFID-enabled bracelet during this early stage of treatment, the treatment history can be recorded from the beginning, all in one place. This allows for doctors and nurses to see a complete picture of the course of treatment as well as symptoms at every stage moving forward.
Barcodes and RFID tags have plenty more uses in a hospital environment, such as accurate specimen collection, pharmacy and inventory tracking (making it easier to track lot and batch numbers as well as quantities of controlled substances, reducing both errors and theft), and more. In all of these cases, a powerful and portable wireless barcode scanner or RFID reader becomes the hospital staffs greatest tool, and should always be supplemented by a mobility strategy that ensures maximum productivity.