Another usage of QR Codes emerges with medical information
QR Codes have been seeing a growing usage over the past year as they have expanded from some of the beginnings for them. We have seen the expected usage in stores where someone scans a QR Code and they are taken to a mobile web site where they are given some coupon discount or other valuable information. That was seen as having the most promise for QR Codes and their interaction with mobile customers. As we have seen this year, they are expanding to many other options, some rather strange, but none the less expanding. We have seen QR codes used on grave markers so that people could get more information about the person who is buried there. So, what other usages can there be for QR Codes?
With new ideas popping up, a new one involving Emergency Services has shown up recently and is being undertaken in Northern California. Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, a Pilot Program with a Silicon Valley start called Lifesquare is underway and QR Codes are at the heart of the 1 year program. The goal is to get residents to put their information into a web site which would include personal and medical information. The process starts by picking up Lifesquare stickers at the CVS pharmacy in Marin County which gives them a unique QR Code. They would then enter their information on the web site and when an emergency responder sees the QR Code for Lifesquare, they could scan the code and immediately get all the relevant information about the patient.
Lifesquare is providing 50 iPhones to responders to use for this purpose, which is expected to go live by the end of the year if everything gets set up correctly and tests prove how valuable it will be. Between now and then, they are facing a number of challenges for the pilot program. The biggest hurdle is getting a sufficient number of people signed up through the program and getting them to enter all their medical information. That is going to be a challenge at best because of the primary age group they may be dealing with. Those over 50 are often not as comfortable using technology as those under 50 and thus the challenge. Privacy concerns are another challenge they are going to have to deal with as those over 50 are not as trusting of technology when sharing personal and medical information.
If they are able to overcome those issues, there becomes an even bigger one where keeping the information current and updated will be critical to the emergency responders. Without up to date information, they may take actions which are not the correct ones. The key to this program is going to be doctors and hospitals keeping the information up to date for their patients so first responders know they have all the necessary information. With that in place, this pilot program could lay the ground work for rolling this out on a much broader scale. This kind of a program will provide first responders with information very quickly after scanning a QR Code rather than playing 50 questions with the patient or family members. Time is of the essence in these kinds of situations.
If Lifesquare can get all the avenues of communication working effectively and participation by a large enough group of people, they will have the potential for a very valid study which will have broad implications. Just how willing different age groups are to participate in this kind of a study is the obvious first question to be answered out of it. There are many others which will help gauge the effectiveness of using QR Codes as a method to assist first responders. It will be some time in 2014 before there are any meaningful results from this which can indicate the viability of such a program.
With this pilot project, you start to see that QR Codes can be expanded to far more if you just use your imagination.