Chamberlain College of Nursing
NR361: Information Systems in Healthcare
We Can But Should We?
In the case of an emergency, what would make you feel more comfortable about your care from emergency responders? The difference between life and death in an emergency can depend on how quick medical information is obtained (Rich, 2012). A new technology is creating the ability to obtain this information with the push of a button. This technology allows the scanning of a medical information code, called a QR code, to acquire personal health information, but has the public questioning if this going to help in an emergency, or is it a government attempt to invade their privacy. This code allows the ability to reduce the rate of error that occurs when humans read and transcribe information (Borglum, 2011). It also allows the option of how to carry the information, as well as the code scanner is easy to download and update. Some disadvantages to this technology include the safety of the information (Borglum, 2011), the cost, and how often the information is updated by the individual. This new technology allows the individual to have their health information on them at all times which could be lifesaving, but the question still remains if an individual’s privacy will be in jeopardy.
The QR Code for Health Information
Many people have heard of the Vial of LIFE (lifesaving information for emergencies) which is personal health information that is stored in a container most likely in or on your refrigerator at home (http://www.vialoflife.com). The new technology of using QR codes to store health information is similar in idea to the Vial of LIFE program (Rich, 2012). A QR code is a two-dimensional code that is scanned by a mobile device with a camera and QR code reader, just like a bar code (Crompton, LaFrance, & Hooft, 2012, p. 22). They are square shaped with pixilation which can be black or white, or in color, with three smaller squares in the corners of the code to allow it to be read from any angle (Crompton et al., 2012, p. 22). There are many different ways in which the QR code can be produced, including on a sticker (Rich, 2012), bracelet, necklace, or a card placed in your wallet (www.scanmedqr.com). No matter what way it is carried, your personal health information can always be on hand.
Even though companies are creating different ways in which the code is displayed, all seem to have the same capabilities of information storage. An individual will enter in their personal information onto a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act secured site (Rich, 2012). It is up to the individual on what information they would like to include. The information which can be stored includes medications, emergency contacts, allergies, blood type, medical conditions, and more (www.scanmedqr.com). As described by Rich (2012), the individual will then be mailed the assigned QR code embedded with their information. Other companies start by giving you the QR code in which you scan and it brings you to a website to enter your information on that specific QR code (www.scanmedqr.com). As mentioned on scanmedqr.com, emergency personnel are trained to look at your wrist, neck and wallet for personal information. Once you receive the code, all that needs to be done is place the information where you prefer.
Advantages vs. Disadvantages
As with any new technology, consumers will want to know the pros and cons in what the technology has to offer. One benefit of the QR code for health information is that it would decrease the amount of time that an emergency responder would spend trying to obtain or find a person’s health information, and less time needing to write it all down. Human error can occur when reading and transcribing information and this technology can help to reduce the risk of this human error (Borglum, 2011). Human error can also occur as one