It allows a greater flexibility on access to identifying where charts are, and it supports the quality of care.
When University Hospital Waterford, the major hospital in the south east - covering Carlow, Kilkenny, south Tipperary, Wexford and Waterford - needed to update its patient-management procedures, a flexible solution was a must.
University Hospital Waterford (UHW) provides a dizzying array of care and treatment, from general medical, surgical, maternity and paediatric to regional specialty services, including orthopaedics, ophthalmology, ENT, neurology, cardiology, vascular surgery and more.
The hospital is also a designated cancer centre, providing services for symptomatic breast disease, lung and prostate cancer patients throughout the south east. With 436 inpatient beds and 96 day places, it is the largest acute hospital within the south east, providing services to a population of almost 500,000 people.
In 2013, UHW adopted the national Integrated Patient Management System (IPMS), replacing its in-house patient administration system as part of the HSE’s national plan for administering hospital patients.
Previously, patients were given wristbands with handwritten or typed information, but the move to a centralised data management and capture system required the use of barcodes.
"When we looked at the options, the solution we felt was the best fit was the standalone printer type," said Peter Roche, UHW’s information services manager.
Desktop Barcode Label Printer
A cartridge-based wristband printer was selected due to ease-of-use, and a tender was issued for all five hospitals in the south east: UHW, Wexford General, South Tipperary General, Kilkenny General and Kilcreene Orthopaedic hospitals.
They also needed barcode scanners, which pass information to the IPMS.
Barcode and data capture specialist VisionID won both tenders, proposing the HC100 wristband printer with Zebra cartridge technology and the Motorola DS4208 healthcare-specific scanner.
Handheld Barcode Scanner
VisionID rolled-out 1,000 scanners and 250 printers across the hospitals and has provided ongoing technical support.
The HC100’s ease of use was a hit with staff, who rapidly nicknamed it the ‘toaster’ due to cartridges popping-out when they needed to be changed. The printer is ideally suited to a busy environment like UHW.
Both the printers and scanners are healthcare-approved, with an anti-microbial finish allowing for simple cleaning, while the HC100 is capable of printing ultra-soft wristbands, providing higher levels of patient comfort.
The HC100 printers have proved robust, and Roche said they were simple to use as little training is needed.
"From our point of view, it was relatively smooth. VisionID delivered on time, even though, at times, there were tight deadlines," he said.
The move to barcode scanning also improved traceability and saved time.
"It’s more comprehensive. Now, we’re able to see the last place where a chart was scanned. If a patient turns up at A&E, the hospital staff can interrogate the system quickly to find these notes or that document. Before, they would have to call medical records.
"Where you would have had a manual system controlled centrally, and a lot of demand on the records staff, doctors and nurses now have visibility. It allows a greater flexibility on access to identifying where charts are, and it supports the quality of care," Roche said.
Crucially, the hardware will also work with 2D barcodes.
"Our plan is to move to 2D barcodes - we made provision for that in the tender process. So the technology is future-proofed," said Roche.
"The units have supported our use of iPMS and they’ve integrated easily with what we have done."