QR Codes, Covid and Healthcare

The NHS in the UK uses QR Code quite extensively and uptake has been accelerated by Covid. One method used is to provide links to screening information via unique QR Codes that simply take scanners to the appropriate page on the NHS’s website from where they can download more information about the relevant screening program.

As an example, one code is used to link people to a page from where they can find out more about the abdominal aortic aneurysm screening service. Doctors can print out a page with the QR Code on it and their patients can quickly scan the code to access online information.

One advantage of this approach is that it is fast and accurate whilst also being very hygienic. A QR Code scan requires no physical contact with the page.

Covid track and trace systems are also being developed for NHS use. See this page for further information.

A more limited service is discussed on this page which encourages medical professionals to print out posters with QR Codes on them.

Other uses of QR Codes in the NHS include providing rapid access to short videos about hospital equipment that provides on the spot and instant training.

Covid-specific QR Code usage

In July 2020 plans are being discussed to allow people to “check in” to businesses using a QR Code. This would link to an app that would be used to contact them in the event that a Covid outbreak had occurred at the business premises and then ask them to isolate for a suitable period. Each business would have its unique QR Code and the process of scanning it would in essentially log the fact that the user has visited the location concerned. The are clearly some privacy issues here but I suspect for many people, the benefit of knowing they will be contacted if they have been exposed to Coronavirus will outweigh privacy concerns.

The general message from this is that QR Code usage is getting extremely common now after a fairly slow start when they were launched by the Denso Wave Corporation back in 1994. The widespread availability of QR Code scanners, also known as mobile phones, coupled with ubiquitous internet connectivity has taken away virtually all barriers to usage. Usage has of course been accelerated too by the widespread use of mobile apps, most of which are made accessible via QR Codes.