Bar Codes, QR Codes and more: The Intersection of Technology and Life

This post was authored by Jason Penn and posted to The Eye Opener on May 5th, 2011.

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Is that a UPC on your Business Card?

The business cards I ordered arrived yesterday.  I tore into the package to do the usual inspection.  Is my name spelled correctly?  Is the card stock heavy enough?  Did they use the desired typeface?  Yes. Yes. And Yes.  But I needed to ask one additional question: Does the QR code link correctly?   I know what you are thinking:  What is a QR Code and why is it on your business card?  Let’s try an experiment.

The image you see above is a QR Code.  Although it looks similar to a UPC Code, it is actually a Quick Response Code. A Quick Response Code is a pixel generated collection of information packaged into a neat square comprised of dot artwork.  Go ahead. Use your iPhone (or other smart phone) to snap this QR code.  I should tell you that you will need to download a free app to read the QR code.  (QR Reader, easily found in any App Store or Marketplace should do the trick.)  Now, where did that take you?

Much like a barcode, you can create your personal QR Code, in multiple versions, with each version containing a specific message or URL.  The information is read with an optical scanner that recognizes the universal code. The ubiquitous camera cell phone serves as the quick scan reader.

A neat party trick?  Maybe.  But it also serves as a very easy way for me to connect with my technologically savvy clients.  In one click, my clients are directed to my mobile website containing my telephone number, email address and profile.  The link can be updated to contain a map with directional information to my office also.  All from their smart phone.

A Grocery Store or a Hospital:  Technology in Healthcare

If you’ve been to a hospital lately, you have probably noticed the prevalence of technology in the hospital setting.  Specifically, barcodes.  They are everywhere.  On the charts, on the patient’s wrist.  It can make you wonder if you are shopping for groceries or checking in on Mom and the newest addition to the family.

The first attempts to introduce bar codes into the hospital setting came in the late 1970’s when the National Cash Registered offered a product built around bar codes.  Bar codes were placed next to computer terminals on patient units.  Staff were instructed to swipe the patient’s bar code label, then the bar codes of the tests, procedures and medications.

The idea then and now is to reduce the number of errors that occur when humans read or transcribe information.  Although certainly the error rate can be reduced with due caution, it is difficult to replicate the accuracy and reliability afforded by a computer.  Accordingly, on a nationwide basis, hospitals currently utilize bar codes to assist in patient registration and admission processes, patient safety, clinical care delivery, patient tracing, product/supply logistics and material management coordination and patient accounting and billing.  Not only are bar codes being used, but so are electronic medical records.  With both their advocates and their detractors, it certainly appears that they are here to stay, as discussed here.  All are representative of the health care industry’s attempts to reduce errors.

Technology — its symbols and its terminology — are here to stay.  If you are unwilling to accept technology and its invasion, I suggest you spend some time with a three year old and a computer or a smartphone.  I have, and let me tell you, she could probably teach me a thing or two.  There is no replacement for face to face contact, but if technology can help with client contact and patient safety, I’m on board.

It doesn’t say “leave a response” down below for nothing. Feel free to let us know YOUR thoughts.

Question:  What about you?  Have you seen QR codes popping up in everyday life?  Are you still fighting the tide of technology or are you fully immersed?

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One Response to “Bar Codes, QR Codes and more: The Intersection of Technology and Life”

  1. I am now not certain the place you’re getting your info, but great topic. I must spend a while studying more or figuring out more. Thanks for fantastic information I was on the lookout for this info for my mission.

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