The Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda of Bar Code Implementation in Healthcare

by Nathan Lord on June 4, 2012 · 0 comments

in Healthcare,Vertical Markets

While on my recent trip to the West coast for the unSummit show, I had the opportunity to sit in on a  presentation by a healthcare facility discussing, in hindsight, the things they should have done to prepare for their barcoding implementation. I thought I would run through some of the highlights, as I think knowing these end-user pain points (or regrets maybe) would help VARs in their approach to working with potential customers.

Facility and Speaker Background:

  •  Joanne Abbotoy, RN, BSN, Nurse Administrator, Nurse Informatics
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • 123 Inpatient Beds
  • 1,000 Outpatient Visits Daily
  • 3,300 Employees
  • 14 Physical Outpatient Centers

In the presentation, I picked up on six key areas Ms. Abbotoy identified where things could have been improved (don’t worry, I’ll cover each briefly so it’s not too lengthy), and I’ve summarized a few of the “shoulda, woulda, couldas” for each.


  • Should have created a post-workflow analysis (to help in further implementation)
  • Should have done more research ahead of time
  • Should have done more detailed reporting for follow up to make sure things were working right
  • Should have gotten buy-in from nurses in all departments (MAJOR ONE)


  • Should have done a step-by-step detailed procedure for scanning (better training)
  • Should have addressed override procedures more thoroughly (don’t make it too easy, identify what cannot be overridden at all, identify specific procedures before an override is done)
  • Should have identified and prohibited workarounds before implementing
  • Should have focused on being correct rather than being on-time (curb overriding)


  • Should have scaled back to one-hour overview training and one-hour hands-on training
  • Should have provided 24/7 support available for the first week following launch
  • Should have had mandatory head nurse training and identified them as “Super Users”


  • Should have gotten buy-in from the head nurse **EXTREMELY IMPORTANT**
  • Should have focused on the WHY (patient safety) instead of just the how to


  • Should have taught pharmacy techs the importance of how barcodes are applied
  • Should have done quality checks on barcode printing during implementation
  • Should have made sure techs were aware that damaged barcodes are not usable


  • Should have had the carts tested by the nurses (not just the IT team)
  • Should have considered weight and ease of movement (light and easy)
  • Should have considered locking drawers for medication storage to limit trips to the nurses’ station
  • Should have considered a good battery life to support a full shift (12 hours, not just 8)

So what’s the bottom line?? What are the key things to consider when working on your solution with a healthcare facility? I came away with three solid takeaways from what was presented.

  1. The importance of nurse buy-in (if they don’t feel like they had a hand in it, they won’t be as easy to buy-in and they will look for ways around to the “old way”)
  2. The importance of quality training (If they feel comfortable with what they are doing through step-by-step procedures and hands-on practice, they will be more likely to commit)
  3. The importance of this being about improving patient safety (it may not save time, but it will save lives)

Take these into consideration when planning to approach a healthcare facility. Make sure you share these concerns with them. They may or may not agree, but, if you’re in it to sell them on a solution to help their business, then you owe it to them to disclose some of the pain points.

What do you think… is there something I’ve missed? Are there other pain points to consider when looking into barcoding implementation in healthcare? What else do you think are keys to a successful sell and implementation?

If you would like more information on what was presented, you can visit the unSummit website and download the presentation slides that were provided.

This post was written by

Nathan Lord is a Product Manager at ScanSource POS & Barcoding in Greenville, SC. He has 10 years of experience in distribution and is a regular contributor to The Source on healthcare, social media, and point of sale & barcoding products.

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