Hospital Admissions More Productive, Records More Accurate with Bar Coding

Posted October 13, 2009

Provenant Health Partners, a group of affiliated Denver-area hospitals, needed a profitable and reliable system to replace its older card embossing machines. These machines were costly and cumbersome to use. They were also unreliable; imprints of the cards were illegible four to six percent of the time.

The hospitals installed Zebra® Stripe® thermal transfer printers to replace the card embossing machines. Hospital employees no longer sent the cards to every department to mark records, but merely printed labels to identify the records of each patient. Bar code labels mark patients’ file folders, order sheets and patient wristbands.

Stripe printers are located throughout the hospitals to generate labels as needed. Most nursing stations print 30 labels per patient with the ability to print more as needed. Others departments also use the printers. Therapists in Physical Medicine use bar coded patient order sheets to verify which procedures to perform, then scan bar coded “menu” items to assign charges to the patient. The radiology department prints and applies bar code labels to every doctor’s order, lab sheet and pharmacy form. The bar codes allow staff to access files immediately in the event of an audit from insurance companies. And when supplies are removed from the supply cabinet at a nursing station, a bar code is scanned and the item is deleted from inventory. Then a census chart is scanned, charging the supplies to the individual patient’s account.

“With label printing at the locations they’re needed, admissions personnel don’t have to leave their posts to deliver the card to that station or to replace lost cards,” said Diane Vonasek, admissions director for St. Anthony Hospital. “We’ve experienced an increase in productivity by gathering information in admissions and printing the labels up on the floors.”

Accurately scanned bar codes provide assurance for the hospitals while ensuring positive identification for the patient’s sake. Vonasek went on to say, “With bar coding in place, employees can remain experts in what they do best. Admissions can deal with the paperwork, and care givers can tend to their patients.”

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