Barcodes used to help fight COVID-19

We’re all used to seeing barcodes when shopping, but we’ve adapted this piece of everyday life to make it a potentially lifesaving technology during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

We have  developed CareScan+, which is a point of care scanning solution used to enhance patient safety.

CareScan+ uses the information contained within barcodes to identify patients and staff. It is also used to track and monitor the use of medical equipment, surgical implants and other medical supplies.

CareScan+ was trialled in late 2019 and was used by clinical staff to scan items, such as replacement hip and knee joints prior to being used in the operating theatre. CareScan+ maintains a record of surgical implants used for re-order purposes, in addition to this practical requirement where appropriate the system can also provide decision support by raising warnings to the person scanning the item. For example, the handset will inform the user if the item is out of date or some other aspect of its use needs to be checked.

When using CareScan+ to scan surgical implants, the items can be traced much more quickly than they could in the past. So in the unlikely but possible event of a manufacturer’s recall, every patient who has received the recalled product can be identified within minutes so that any necessary review and follow-up is arranged much sooner.

After a successful trial, the Project team were tasked with adapting CareScan+ for monitoring the location and usage of non-invasive ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CareScanTony Naylor, Associate Director of ICT, explains: “We gave each portable ventilator device a unique barcode, which is scanned every time it is allocated to a patient, removed for cleaning or maintenance or put back in storage.

“Whenever a colleague requires one of the ventilators, they just check a simple online dashboard we created which shows the location and current usage of every ventilator in the hospital.”


Working against a tight deadline, the Project team had the CareScan+ ventilator adaptation in place and in use on the wards within a week.

Anthony Kennerley, CareScan+ Project Manager, said: “We were given a week to adapt CareScan+ to get it ready to help our clinical colleagues in their fight against COVID-19.

“Since we developed CareScan+ ourselves, we were confident we could rapidly design and implement the modifications within the required timescale.”

CareScan+ is solely owned by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

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