Quick-Response-Based Technology in Healthcare and Dentistry: History
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 The present smart card is an advance in patient identification, using a quick-response (QR) code to automatically report or receive certain types of responses from patients or physicians once illuminated by signals from QR readers.

  • medical record linkage dentistry
  • patient care
  • medically complex

1. Introduction

Patient identification plays a significant and vital role in managing patient safety in any health care system. Existing evidence supports a systematic approach, with instructions to be followed in association with patient identification to avert errors and undesirable consequences in health care organizations at each stage of patient care [1]. A joint collaboration between the World Health Organization (WHO) and Joint Commission International in 2007 advocated specific and important patient safety factors to prevent adverse events and errors in a healthcare system [2]. These solutions were based on interventions, systems, and projects targeting patients’ overall safety and reducing harm, including correct identification of patients as an important tool that can attenuate patient harm [3].
Nevertheless, in many healthcare organizations, patient identification is performed manually with the help of healthcare staff. However, this technique can result in anthropogenic errors; therefore, electronic methods serve as an effective substitute. Studies have shown that identification errors can impact patients, as well as healthcare professionals, by leading to severe problems associated with medical procedures. These problems can include errors in the administration of medications, blood transfusions, and minor or major surgery [4]. These errors can be minimized using automated electronic systems for patient identification [4][5]. Automated patient identification systems have several advantages: they are quick and reliable in identifying patients and facilitate easy accessibility and arrangement of patient medical records. Hence, they maximize the safety and security of patient identification, delivering correct clinical information quickly and effectively [6]. In addition, they facilitate the establishment of national registries that can ultimately improve the delivery of health services and enhance the efficiency of the health care system [7][8]. They have, therefore, gained immense popularity in medical and dental practices.

2. Quick-Response (QR)-Based Technology in Healthcare

Due to their versatility, QR codes have been used in all types of healthcare settings. For example, in maxillofacial radiology, they help to store patient case histories [9]; older patients can keep better track of their use of medications for increased safety [10]; and, following orthopedic cast application, QR codes can provide instructions to patients [11]. They also play a valuable role in healthcare education by increasing students’ access to visual learning materials [12].
In medicine, effective monitoring of patient health is essential. In several situations, due to the unavailability of proper medical records, it becomes challenging for medical staff to provide proper treatment for critically ill patients who are comatose and placed in the emergency department. Physicians’ inability to access patients’ past medical histories can impair the treatment planning, including the surgical protocol, required to proceed further. Hence, QR technology will provide a health-monitoring system for patients and healthcare professionals, allowing for easy accessibility of medical information anywhere at any time, irrespective of disparities in healthcare settings [13]. Physicians can quickly access medical records and evaluate a patient’s health status. This helps them to deliver quality care in emergency situations, thereby enhancing patient safety. This technology provides a complete and easily acquired record file of any patient. Furthermore, electronic-based patient records accessible via QR codes allow for the sharing of medical information within the group of doctors involved in treatment, ensuring the exchange of full records (including allergies, past medical history, and medications) when required [14].
QR-code technology has numerous advantages for patient identification: this method is user-friendly and provides ease of access since it does not require any unique tags (such as radio frequency identification tags) for identification. QR codes can be generated easily on any surface, such as paper or plastic labels; hence, no specific equipment is needed to print them, and a simple printer is sufficient [4]. QR codes are widely used because smartphones are now being used in all aspects of life, which makes reading and decoding these codes quite simple and popular compared with more complex systems. Compared with radio frequency identification-based systems, reading QR codes is only possible when one is in close proximity, making it impossible to read a code that is not identifiable or has errors. This fact makes QR-code reading unambiguous compared with other technologies currently being used in healthcare organizations. As mentioned earlier, QR-code technology is more effective and superior to other systems in terms of its higher storage capacity, lower cost, user-friendliness, accessibility, technical simplicity, approachability, and electronic learning via camera-equipped smartphones. All of these features make QR-based technology a promising system that can be widely implemented for patient identification purposes, even in developing countries that struggle with limited resources and lack health care support [4].

3. Use of QR-Based Technology in Dentistry

3.1. Denture Labeling

Over the past few decades, QR-based technology has been used in dentistry. Applications related to denture-labelling barcode generators are used by dental practitioners, and fast scans are performed by smartphones. Since QR matrix barcodes can store a large amount of data, they are an ideal system for denture labelling [15]. This method allows for the placement of the patient’s identification within the denture, making it simple for the technician, as well as the dentist, to minimize the risks of denture loss. Interestingly, this process of denture labelling is also implemented in the forensic sciences, in which it helps in correct identification during catastrophic events [16].

3.2. Inventory Control

Another critical role of QR codes in dentistry is their use in inventory control inside health organizations. They are essential in managing dental materials, acting as a physical store in which adequate tracking of material in use is performed. Hence, they enable materials to be appropriately categorized and selected and their use to be analyzed statistically [17].

3.3. Drug Prescription

A common medical error encountered widely in the healthcare industry is incorrect drug prescription. A US-based study noted that a large portion of the population (approximately 1.5 million people) is affected by incorrect drug prescriptions annually, costing $3.5 billion on associated treatment. Therefore, the use of QR codes is being popularized because it will minimize such errors by creating an accurate health record, one in which all of the risk-associated factors for medically complex patients can be tracked. Moreover, if a physician is well informed about a patient’s health condition, he or she can communicate the information to the patient and family members. Doing so will further prevent the occurrence of medical errors [13].

3.4. Dental Education

QR-code technology helps students to gain knowledge quickly by promoting access to a wide variety of scientific materials via the internet. For example, e-learning can be implemented in dentistry by scanning any QR-tagged dental instrument required for any procedure, and the associated resource or training sessions will be made available. It also helps students to conduct online surveys and access feedback and evaluation forms at any dental institution, and it provides direct access to presentations and lecture notes for dental students [18].

3.5. Dental Practice Management

QR-based technology can prove beneficial in dental practice in two ways. First, it can help to build mutual trust and connection between the dentist and the patient. Second, it can provide feedback associated with patient satisfaction, physician communication skills, and quality of care delivered by any hospital or individual practitioner in a dental setting. Education facilitates the exchange of dental knowledge, videos, and research materials between practitioners [18]. This ease of use will help dental practitioners to improve and deliver high-quality treatment to all patients.
Broadly speaking, QR technology is vital to medical and dental care management. The key advantages of QR technology [13] are that it
  • reduces the risk of medical errors;
  • allows for correct and accurate patient identification;
  • improves patient care and management;
  • positively impacts patient survival rate; and
  • promotes dental education.

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/healthcare10112314


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