QR codes for vaccines increase data accuracy

We’ve seen QR codes been used for marketing but on vaccines? That’s what the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending, so that errors in data collection reduce. They will also help providers automatically upload the patient’s data to Electronic Health Records (EHRs).

QR codes increase data accuracy

2D barcodes pack in more data than linear barcodes. Right now, linear bar codes only have vaccine product information. But, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) also requires documentation of the vaccine lot number. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests documenting the vaccine’s expiry date.
As of now, this data is entered by hand or typed in the EHR and then the state Immunization Information System (IIS). “I often see transcription errors where eight (8) and “B” or zero (0) and “O” have been mixed up,” says a clinician who took part in CDC’s pilot study on using QR codes on vaccines.

QR codes for vaccines

Study participants were across the country. Image by CDC.

Also, it can be tough to read the lot number and expiry date stamped on some vaccine packages. “The lot number is critical in instances such as a product recall,” says CDC. The Center ran a pilot project on QR codes for vaccines from 2011 that finished this year. It included vaccine manufacturers like GSK, immunizing providers like pediatricians, and EMR vendors.

The pilot found that data accuracy improved significantly with the use of QR codes. Also, “it’s now cheaper to use 2D barcodes than not use them,” says Alan O’Connor, a senior economist at RTI International.

QR codes are time saving and improve safety


A baby gets a vaccine. Image by Neale Bryan.

Other benefits include a saving in time, which can add up if entries need to be made by hand. Considering a pediatrician does many vaccines in a day, this figure can be high. Time spent rectifying a wrong handwritten entry is even more, so scanning saves this time too.

Patient safety is also greater, as accurate information in case of product recalls is available with automated updation of EHRs. There is also less chance of duplicate vaccine administration, as the patient’s EHR will show vaccines received. We’ve talked earlier about ways in which QR codes are used to get patient information.

Data collection from QR codes on vaccines is valuable from a research point of view as well. Through regular electronic scanning of information contained in 2D barcodes, we believe that a more accurate and complete picture of U.S. vaccine usage could emerge,” says Dr. Leonard Friedland, VP, Scientific Affairs and Public Policy, GSK Vaccines, North America.

Another study reveals that the net economic benefits of using 2D barcodes on vaccines are forecasted to be $310-$ 334 million, from 2011-2023.

QR codes make historical tours come alive

Some places just speak to you, don’t they? While that may have been a figure of speech for as long as we know, it’s now a reality. What makes that possible is the simple use of quick response codes. Eager travelers and traveling enthusiasts can now discover everything they need to know about historical sites, by scanning the QR codes installed there.

Discover a historic site in Amsterdam through QR codes

Discover a historic site in Amsterdam through QR codes. Image by iamsterdam.com

A few places across the world have started using QR codes that allow tourists to scan the code and see information and images about the town or site’s history. These cities include Sacramento K Street (Canada), St. Michaels (Maryland), and Amsterdam (Netherlands). This application of QR codes could result in more tourists not relying on traditional guided tours and taking these free walking tours whenever they please. Being able to see pictures and videos of a historical place will make it easier for tourists to imagine how places used to look like in the past.

QR codes used to show history

Sacramento’s K Street has many buildings that are interesting from an architectural point of view. Local businesses with a distinctive character are also on this street. So, The Sacramento Room and Turn Downtown Around (TDA) decided to create a digital tour of this street, which tourists could take. Sacramento public Library director Rivkah K. Sass said, “Our goal with this project was to build a kind of time machine.”

Amanda Graham, library services specialist and archivist at The Sacramento Room said, “We thought K Street would be perfect because it’s gone through so many changes over the years. With the QR Codes, we hope to catch people’s curiosity as they’re down there, especially if they’re a little uncertain about the building’s history.”

A store in Sacarmento

A 1935 image of a store. Image by Sacramento Public Library.

How QR code on a tour works

You can scan QR codes at different locations on the street with your smartphone’s scanner application. You can then see information and old images of the street from as far back as 1939. The data is stored on SACQR. This mobile optimized site has addresses with images and clickable audio descriptions of many Sacramento locations. Employees at the library’s Sacramento Room digitally archived the information that has been used for the tour.

TDA’s Demetri Gregorakis hopes to “expand the tour to other areas in Sacramento as well.” He also said that some QR codes for small businesses are yet to be posted because their owners “are hesitant to put them up. Once word gets out and some people start looking for them, maybe there will be more of an incentive.”

QR codes can be used to target different groups

The iNature Trail at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island (Florida) has two different sets of QR code- one for children and the other for adults. The QR codes for children take them to interesting and engaging YouTube videos. The QR codes for adults lead to more informational content.

QR code mosaic

A QR code mosaic in Rio de Janeiro. Image by AP.

QR codes can look attractive

This year, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) began embedding QR codes in pavements. This way, tourists can use the codes to take historic tours on their own. The codes are built with the same stones used in traditional mosaic designs on the pavements. Special stone craftsmen with experience in creating pavements from mosaic materials were chosen for the task. Gediao Jorge, one such craftsman, says, “I’ve built Portuguese pavements like these for 27 years now, but this was the biggest challenge of my career.”

Raul Oliveira Neto, a visitor who used the QR code at a site, says, “We use so much technology to pass information, this makes sense.” A local, Diego Fortunato, remarked as he accessed information, “Look, there’s a little map; it even shows you where we are. Rio doesn’t always have information for those who don’t know the city. It’s something the city needs, that it’s been lacking.”

Portugal was the first in the world to fashion QR codes out of cobblestone, in 2012. One problem has been noticed there by MTSF Partners, the agency that created it. Tomás Froes, MTSF Partners, said, “At certain times the sun-light may upset the cameras’ reading of the cobblestone.”

Amsterdam has also introduced QR codes on its pavements, which are works of art in themselves. About 140 such codes are spread across the city. Each sign is made from four handmade ceramic tiles. Koninklijke Tichelaar Makkum, with tile making experience dating from the 16th century, has made the tiles.

St. Michael’s, Maryland, also plans to introduce QR codes on pavements. Made from brick, the codes would be easy to see and low maintenance.

A Qr code site- bar in Monmouth

One of Monmouth’s 1,000 QR code sites. Image by Monmouthshire County Council.

QR codes make Monmouth (Wales) world’s first Wikipedia town

Monmouth, Wales, established in 1067 is the birthplace of Henry V. Last year, the Monmouthshire County Council collaborated with Wikimedia to put up a 1,000 QR codes on ceramic plaques and stickers all over the town. The codes lead to Wikipedia articles in the language of the phone used to scan the code. Volunteers all over the world wrote articles in different languages on various parts of the town’s history to make this possible.

QR code applications go beyond marketing

Scan and win free tournament tickets, avail exciting offers, download free music, and more – QR codes have certainly become marketing ninjas for companies. They help you get new customers, increase sales, and enhance brand exposure.

The commercial QR code applications have literally overshadowed the less-creative-more-useful purposes of QR codes like embedding instructional information. However, attempts from a few companies show how QR codes can be used with products/devices to offer better customer services.

Continue reading

Innovative QR Code Campaigns Show You How to do Them Right

A consumer stopped at an attractive QR code outside a storefront window; took out his Smartphone and scanned the code in anticipation. Much to his despair, the code redirected him to a ho-hum company website which had nothing specific to offer.

The great noise about QR codes as a marketing tool falls flat when companies with no web presence or an informative landing page ask their customers to scan a code. Faulty experimentation with QR codes often leads a user to a wrong web page; or a full-fledged desktop website that doesn’t support flash videos and contains images which cannot be viewed on a cell phone; and worst of all – to a page which does not exist at all! Thanks to these QR code slips, techies have left no stone unturned in tarnishing the image of QR code technology and predicting its doomed future. However, recent efforts from Bond No. 9 and Beefeater have shown that it’s too early to forecast how much QR codes can achieve.

Theme-based QR Code Campaigns in the Making

Beefeater London 2013 Bottle with QR Code

The QR Code on the creative shrink sleeve will take consumers to an interactive social media page and highlight the creative campaign [Image Courtesy: Coley Porter Bell]

Continue reading

QR Codes Could Minimize Medical Errors Made by First Responders

QR Code Name Tag

Image by CUhomepage used under a Creative Commons License

A QR code could save your life! QR codes have seen a wide array of application but most of them have been commercial- inducing buyers to check out a website, a new app, offers, and discounts, watch videos, find out where your vegetables come from and so on. But they’ve never had a life altering impact until now.

First responders in various cities are teaming up with residents to develop a database that uses QR codes to hold information that may be needed by first responders to treat a patient in an emergency. How does that work? An onsite paramedic can scan a QR code and retrieves information such as medical history, allergies, prescribed drugs a patient is currently taking etc.

Continue reading

QR Code Usage in US Surpasses UK, Says Survey

As new technology hits the market, its watchdogs study the movement to understand how deep the technology has penetrated or how badly it is rejected by the audience. The number game affects a lot of business analysts and is a key factor in deciding whether the technology will be adopted by companies on a mass level or not. QR code technology is no different. First used in Japan in 1994, the QR code technology has spread itself across businesses and is slowly replacing the traditional 1D barcodes used by manufacturers.

QR Code Usage

Image Courtesy: Pitney Bowes

According to the leading postage firm, Pitney Bowes, on an average “15% of people have used a QR code” across the US, UK, France, and Germany in 2012. However, the usage across the US (19%) exceeds that in the UK (15%) and other European countries surveyed. High QR code usage stems from the fact that almost a third of the population in the US owns a Smartphone – a handy way to scan a QR code. Brands and communicators can tap the myriad benefits of QR codes and reach out to consumers who want more access to detailed information about products, schemes, offers, and rewards through this relatively inexpensive tool. Continue reading