- Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics
Two-dimensional (2D) barcoding is ready for use in pediatric offices, promising to reduce medical errors and help health care providers document vaccine information more accurately in patient records.
2D barcodes use the vertical dimension to capture product information, lot number and expiration date in a significantly smaller space than linear barcodes. The new technology is available on pediatric diphtheria and tetanus toxoids adsorbed vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur. In addition, Menactra meningococcal (groups A, C, Y, and W-135) polysaccharide diphtheria toxoid conjugate vaccine, also manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, will have 2D barcodes early this year.
A tiered approach will be used to implement 2D barcodes on additional Sanofi Pasteur products to ensure that supply is not affected by this new printing technology and that the product is working as anticipated. The Academy anticipates other manufacturers will begin launching products with 2D barcodes this year.
Implementation of the new technology is due to the work of a collaborative group of stakeholders and the leadership of many AAP members.
Guidance for clinicians
Having a 2D barcode on the product is only the first step that practices will need to fully utilize this new technology in the office. The Academy has created guidance, available at www.aap.org/immunization, to help practices use 2D barcoding with their electronic medical records (EMRs) or state immunization information systems (registries).
One consideration is choosing a barcode scanner. Like in any commercial market, products have different strengths and weaknesses. Consider the following when selecting a scanner for your office:
Choose a scanner that is of medical device quality and is “disinfectant ready.” Check the scanner specification sheet for this feature.
Be sure the barcode reader is compatible with, or has the stated ability to recognize and translate 2D barcodes.
Make sure the software used to configure the scanner can interact with EMR or registry software. Discuss functionality with your EMR or registry vendor.
Quality of an image is important for readability. In general, the larger the number of pixels, the better the definition of the image. The scanner also will make use of lenses. Some will be better at reading from a distance, while others read better close up. In general, reading very small barcodes is best done with a scanner with a short focal distance, and reading larger codes is better done with a larger focal distance.
Participants sought for pilot project
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has initiated a pilot project to assess challenges and determine best practices for labeling and tracking vaccines using 2D barcodes. The project will test the implementation of 2D barcodes on selected vaccines, and will evaluate and document the impact of 2D barcoding on manufacturers, immunizers and reporting systems. Participants will receive scanning devices, software and training. The pilot project also will address implementation opportunities with EMRs and state immunization information systems.
The project is enrolling participants, with a target of one to three manufacturers, 10 states/grantees, and 300 public, private and commercial immunizers. Those interested in participating should e-mail. The team is looking for participants from Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, New York City, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming who report to their respective state/grantee registries.
The enrollment process for manufacturer, grantee and immunizer candidates will be completed by February, after which time equipment will be installed and participants will be trained. The pilot is anticipated to begin in August and will be conducted for eight months. The Academy is a partner on this project and will share information as it becomes available.