As barcodes and barcode scanners become more common in the healthcare industry, those who tout the benefits of this technology also warn that it is not a panacea. Organizations and businesses that use barcode scanners to care for people's health must undergo training and learn how to use scanners and execute new processes correctly. Introducing scanners creates a whole new workflow that must be recognized and understood; it is not just "the same old way + barcode technology."
Barcode scanners, also commonly referred to as barcode readers or guns, are devices used to read information contained in barcodes and can be categorized as either one-dimensional or two-dimensional barcode scanners. The structure of a barcode scanner typically consists of the following parts: light source, receiver device, photoelectric conversion component, decoding circuit, and computer interface. The basic working principle of a scanner is as follows: the light emitted by the light source illuminates the barcode symbol through the optical system. The light reflected back passes through the optical system and forms an image on the photoelectric converter. The decoder interprets it as a digital signal that can be directly received by the computer. Barcode scanners read barcodes through contact, can handle barcodes of unlimited length, have lower costs compared to other readers, have no moving parts, and are compact and lightweight.
As more leaders recognize the importance of digital accountability and medical transparency, the use of barcodes is expected to increase. One trend to note regarding barcode scanners in healthcare is the use of 2D codes and 2D barcode scanners. Two-dimensional barcodes contain more information than traditional one-dimensional barcodes, but a complete shift to two-dimensional barcodes will take time and a joint effort from healthcare providers who may be satisfied with the current situation. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and digitalized, with cloud computing and storage becoming the norm, the search for portable barcode scanners continues to lead as the best tool for keeping healthcare professionals accurate, up-to-date, and in control of who they are treating, as well as the methods, reasons, and timing of their treatments.