A nurse uses a Zebra device to scan the barcode on a patient's wristband
By Johnny Ong | March 19, 2024

This is How 2D Barcodes Can (and Should) Be Used in Healthcare Settings

Whether you’re just starting to use 1D barcodes or you thought it was time to move past barcodes, you need to understand the new dimension that 2D barcodes will add to patient care and supply chain management.

Barcodes have proven to be a life-saving tool in healthcare. They enable positive patient identification (PPID) for everything from surgical plan verifications to medication administration to mother-baby matching. And they enable the fast, accurate documentation of medical treatments for efficacy monitoring.

With just three simple scans – of the barcoded medical device or pharmaceutical package, barcoded patient wristband, and barcoded (paper or digital) medical record – all care team members can report treatment actions in real time. This helps build a trustworthy and easily referenceable patient history that can later assist in an investigation if a patient’s status changes, and the suspected culprit is a negative reaction to a device or treatment. This centralized, accurate patient chart also eases patient care transfers between physicians and nurses. The current provider can look up the patient’s chart and see when and why medication was administered or devices were implanted.

Of course, my Zebra colleagues and healthcare community peers have spoken at length about how the barcode can help in achieving an accurate medical diagnosis more quickly and mitigating the risk of lab result reporting errors. We also know how beneficial barcode scans can be in tracking and managing inventory and equipment within healthcare supply chains and facilities.

In fact, I’m hard-pressed to find a patient care or medical billing-related action that a barcode scan doesn’t (or couldn’t) influence.

That’s why I was eager to sit down with Ryan Dai, Pre-Sales Manager, APAC for Kezzler, for a GS1 Singapore-hosted discussion about what more 2D barcode technology will be able to do for healthcare providers and patients.

If you’re not familiar with 2D barcodes or want to know the differences between 1D and 2D barcodes, I highly recommend you tune into the replay of our discussion now. We talked about:

  • why 2D barcodes were created and how they differ from traditional 1D barcodes.
  • how you can use 2D barcodes to collect, structure and share data for multiple purposes throughout the healthcare value chain.
  • how you can use a data repository to seamlessly integrate the 2D barcode data with disparate information systems across your healthcare systems so that your physicians, nurses, support staff and suppliers can better study patient and community trends, plan for demand spikes and deliver high quality care. Ryan even shared a story of the FrieslandCampina FRISO brand, which uses 2D barcodes to help create personalised experiences and impactful loyalty programs, improve supply chain visibility, and mitigate product diversion and counterfeiting.

I then provided my thoughts on how the adoption of 2D barcodes in healthcare environments can specifically help with patient safety. How can we capture, aggregate, and share even more data throughout the supply chain and patient care experience to help…

  • maintain a chain of custody for medical devices, supplies, and pharmaceuticals?
  • match the patient to the right chart, lab results, blood products, and medications?
  • care providers act fast when there’s a recall on medical devices or drugs or intervention is otherwise needed to protect patients’ wellbeing
  • maintain and audit compliance with regulations designed to protect patients?

Ryan and I also explored ways that 2D barcodes can make current barcode-based healthcare workflows more efficient. How can we make existing processes more impactful with this new technology without needing to completely re-engineer the processes?

If these are the same questions and thoughts you have, or you just want a primer on 2D barcode technology because you’ve heard of it but haven’t heard much about how it works or why it’s going to be something you’ll eventually have to use, I encourage you to download the replay of our conversation now:

GS1 Solution Partner Webinar: Unveiling the Power of GS1 2D Barcodes

You may also want to check out these blog posts, which go more in-depth into the sizeable impact barcode technology is having on healthcare systems that have started using it in both targeted/strategic and large-scale ways:



Blog, Article, Asset Tracking, Digitizing Workflows, New Ways of Working, Scanning Solutions, Healthcare,
Johnny Ong
Johnny Ong

Johnny Ong has been on the front lines of healthcare for over 20 years. He currently advises healthcare administrators and clinicians on best practices for clinical workflows, automation and more as the Healthcare Practice Lead for Zebra in APAC.

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