New Barcode Workflows for Nurses

Posted February 23, 2015

2015-0210A creative group of nurses are helping Honeywell uncover better ways to use barcode printers and scanners at the bedside. In the past, it was common to see barcode scanners mounted on workstation-on-wheel (WoW) carts behind the display and out of the way. It made perfect sense at a time when reading barcodes was a new and relatively uncommon task. Today, the frequency of reading barcodes at the bedside has dramatically increased and—with Meaningful Use Stage 2—this trend will continue. Nurses using Honeywell’s Xenon cordless barcode scanner quickly discovered that mounting it in an elevated, forward-facing orientation allowed them to fully benefit from the scanner’s “presentation mode” feature. Just like the built-in scanners found at the grocery store, presentation mode scanning is faster because it eliminates the need to squeeze the trigger, and frees up the second hand for quickly handling items.

Thanks to high performance imaging technology, Xenon scanners are particularly fast in hospital applications and are able to quickly read the toughest barcodes, such as clear IV bags or micro medication barcodes. Xenon scanners are so quick and accurate, that it rarely matters how the barcode is oriented or how much your hand moves when scanning. Gone are the days of aligning that little red line so that it precisely dissects the barcode. With Xenon, getting a good scan is just a “squeezen-beep” effort, or just a “beep” in the case of presentation mode scanning.

Nurses have learned that selecting a cordless scanner can dramatically improve workflows at the bedside, as evidenced by the fact that more that 70% of hospitals purchasing Xenon scanners recently have chosen the cordless model. The most significant advantage is the freedom of movement followed by the elimination of “cord snagging and tangling,” which can be critically important in an environment where you have patient IV lines and other monitoring equipment in the vicinity.

More than just performance, a lot of design work goes into creating a barcode scanner for healthcare environments. For example, Xenon’s housing design is smooth and lacks crevices or areas tough to clean and where bacteria can thrive. By going cordless, the scanner cable that notoriously drags on the floor is eliminated from the cleaning routine. The time saved in cleaning alone has been justification enough for most hospitals to switch to cordless scanners.

All of these features have aided nursing workflows, but perhaps the most dramatic improvement has come in the form a new concept for scanner mounting. Working in concert with customers, it was discovered that mounting the Xenon cordless scanner above the display helped nurses stay more focused on their EMR system screen. During medication administration activities, nurses are required to frequently check the WoW display for any errors detected by the software. By mounting the Xenon above the display, it allows nurses to scan the medication via presentation mode and keep their eyes clearly focused on the screen for any special notifications.

A secondary benefit of this over-monitor mounting position was soon discovered. The Xenon’s bright, white illumination area also serves as a perfect on-demand desktop lamp— termed a scanlamp— allowing nurses to work at night without disturbing resting patients. With the press of a single button on the Xenon charge base, the scanner’s bright white lights illuminate the entire work surface. Nurses have reported they no longer needed to turn on the room lights, unnecessarily disturbing patients or their family members sleeping in the room. This “white light” Xenon also makes an excellent makeshift flashlight when held in the hand.

In combination with the new Xenon mounting system, today many hospitals are mounting their specimen label printers on their WoW carts at the bedside. Phlebotomist and nurses alike prefer having printers already in the room, eliminating the need to find and carry printers along with their other specimen collection supplies. Providing printers on the WoW carts greatly reduces wireless connection issues and completely eliminates having to charge the printer’s batteries. In this picture, a Honeywell mobile printer receives power from the WoW cart and is mounted beside the display in what is called “zero footprint” mode, taking no space on the WoW work surface.

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