QR Codes: Why All Pharmacies & Industry Need to Use Them

by Nursetopia on August 31, 2010

QR, or Quick Response, codes and Microsoft Tags are popping up everywhere. Basically, they make print materials interactive. Smart phone users can scan the codes or Tags using specified apps, decoding the data which may contain contact information, URLs, you name it. Allure recently used Microsoft Tags to give away tons of prizes in their August issue, and I’ve seen more and more snail mail – particularly advertisements and coupons – include QR codes. For example, my cable company recently sent me a booklet of upcoming watch-on-demand movies along with a QR code linking me to the movie trailer, which I can conveniently view directly on my iPhone. Clever. I’ve even started incorporating QR codes into my nursing education efforts. Jerry Fahrni talks more about QR codes on his Pharmacy Informatics & Technology blog.

Allure Magazine recently used Microsoft Tags to give away over 30,000 beauty & fashion products.

I’ve recently become enamored with QR codes and Tags. Not only are they fun to scan and “neat” tech, they’re like a hyperlink for hardcopy print materials – truly useful.  With smart phone adoption on the rise, QR codes and Tags are a natural progression, and I’ve pondered their use in healthcare. Nurses and other healthcare professionals have been scanning barcodes for medication administration and laboratory services for a while now. However, I think QR codes and Tags can make a paradigm shift in dispensed medication – both over-the-counter and via Industry/corporate pharmacies.

Both companies and pharmacies could add a QR code/Microsoft Tag to the medication label for patients and/or healthcare professionals to scan and directly access the patient medication information sheet. I know I always trash my OTC boxes and paper inserts, and I’m forever misplacing the patient education information sheets for my prescribed medication. It would be nice to have that information easily accessible with one simple scan via my iPhone. Along the same thought, I know other nurses share my experience of a patient bringing in a box of OTCs and random pharmacy pill bottles. It would be awesome to scan each med to quickly learn about interactions, side effects, etc. It would be even more fabulous if that info could sync into the electronic medical record. I know I’m dreaming now, but really – the possibilities of QR codes and Microsoft Tags within the pharmaceutical industry are both impactful and feasible.

So, to any corporation that sells or dispenses medication: Maybe you’re already working on this. And maybe others have mentioned this, as well. It’s simply the thought of a nurse to make life – for the public and healthcare professionals – easier.


Jerry Fahrni August 31, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I like your idea for the use of QR Codes.

nursetopia August 31, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Thanks, Jerry!

william October 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm

we are about to offer our service to people so that they can either wear or have a physical tag on their keyring with a qr code that would take a paramedic directly to their personal page to show what meds they are currently taking, allergies, doctor contacts etc. this account would be accessible by the client to update as meds change, as they change address etc etc..

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