Reducing Errors with Healthcare Barcode Technology

11th Jul 2016

In a fast-paced, high-pressure, environment subject to ever-changing regulations and increasing public scrutiny, many NHS hospitals are looking to advancing barcode and scanning technologies to relieve pressure and to streamline their operations.

Their ultimate goal in many cases is to increase productivity, collect more patient data, unify processes and to maintain better records. Utilising the correct technology can easily overcome such challenges. However, the wrong technology or broader solutions, particularly when implemented incorrectly, can have a direct negative impact on patient safety and lead to time wasted by key personnel who are then faced with many unnecessary and avoidable challenges.

Many healthcare organisations are partnering with market leading manufacturers, such as Datalogic and Honeywell AIDC, for scanning and mobility solutions to improve patient care and clinician workflows - powered by Ensign of course!

What devices are we talking about and what are their primary functions?

The use of mobile computers, mobile printers and handheld scanners are part of a comprehensive range of technologies that are used in relation to Admissions, Specimen Collection, Equipment Management and Pharmacy Services, to name but a few.

From mobile device management of mobile computers and printers to precise barcode scanning and RFID tagging, that allow remote device administration from a single, centralised, location.  Ensign, alongside our partners for handheld devices, is committed to accurate and timely data collection, which simultaneously enhances communication workflows within the healthcare sector. It is our hope that, with a sharper focus on these areas, healthcare facilities can spend more time and resources on providing the best possible patient care.

Unforced errors

According to The World Health Organisation Regional office for Europe a staggering 23% of European Union citizens claim to have been directly affected by medical error, 18% claim to have experienced a serious medical error in a hospital and 11% to have been prescribed wrong medication.

Evidence on medical errors shows that 50% to 70.2% of such harm events can be prevented through comprehensive systematic approaches to patient safety.

A focus on care

Whether medical practitioners need to scan patient barcodes on medical bracelets or access electronic patient records, the management of these workflows through the implementation of multi-functional mobile scanning devices are designed to promote patient safety and patient care.  All data capture devices are secure and ergonomic to ensure that health professionals are allowed to focus on what matters; the patients.

During the admission process, an in-patient is issued with a barcoded bracelet containing a variety of information unique to them.  With a single pocket-sized device medical professionals can rapidly scan barcodes and transmit pertinent information to other care teams via voice or text - they can even update electronic patient records.

This facility can also be used for administering medicine and reducing errors originating at the pharmacy. For example - Phlebotomists use barcodes to label specimens collected at the bedside and to ensure that they are associated with the correct patient.  These specimens can then the tracked through the laboratory with barcode scanning at various intervals to drastically reduce the errors that have, in the past, been associated with the tracking process.

To hear more about the use of handheld devices and their application within Healthcare, contact Ensign today on 01929 556 553 or email

You can also read my blog RFID Tagging and Tracking in Healthcare.

What Next?

If you are planning to deploy an enterprise-grade wireless network or are experiencing problems with a existing setup, please feel free to contact Ensign Communications for a chat with our technical team.