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QR Codes based Simplified OPD Registration

QR Codes based Simplified OPD Registration

A good thing about technology is that it benefits everyone irrespective of their background and that is what is happening in India. When Masahiro Hara, a Japanese engineer working at Denso Wave, came up with Quick Response (QR) Code technology, he would not have imagined that some 30 years after its invention in 1994, it would transform various business sectors, enabling ease of access, identification, and tracking. 

When Masahiro was asked how he felt knowing his invention was being used to make payments safely and to help with the coronavirus pandemic, he said to The Guardian, “I’m pleased that it’s being been used to help improve people’s safety,……back in 1994 we were focused on its use in the economy … we never thought it would be used for something like this.”

In 2019, Masahiro Hara (63) celebrated the 25th anniversary of his QR Code invention at Denso Wave.

QR Codes find various kinds of applications today. In retail stores, supply chain and logistics, manufacturing, item-level tagging, libraries as well as in hospitals and medical colleges, QR Codes can be used for quickly and efficiently disseminating information and identifying items.

The healthcare sector in India often struggles with a lack of healthcare professionals and the necessary infrastructure to handle long queues outside the OPD (Outpatient Department). Patients are often seen queuing from late at night to the afternoon the next day, just to get an appointment with a doctor. The challenges are overwhelming and not everything can be attributed to no. of doctors and the huge population. Sometimes crumbling infrastructure itself leads to long queues and high waiting times but some hospitals have found a solution in QR Code to streamline the OPD registration process and reduce waiting time in India.

QR Code: Introduction

QR Code is a square-shaped, 2D barcode image with black and white small square patterns that can store 200 times more data than a traditional barcode, UPC-12, or EAN-13 barcode. 

QR Codes are appropriately named Quick Response codes as you can scan a QR Code using your smartphone pretty quickly, unlike 1-dimensional barcodes with actual bars. A QR Code can be written with a URL, Text, Image, PDF, Google form, Numerical, etc. 

The reason a QR Code offers a quick scanning feature is due to its structure as it comes with a dedicated read zone and focus zone and even if a QR Code is slightly damaged, you can still scan it. 

QR Codes in Hospitals: Simplified OPD Registration in India

As I mentioned above, patients in India have to be extremely patient while registering at OPD. Due to the lack of digital infrastructure in many govt. run hospitals and clinics, it takes hours to register patients on any given day and thousands of people return empty-handed, without a doctor’s appointment. It is not that you cannot register online in some of the best government hospitals in India such as RML, AIIMS-Delhi, etc. but the possibility of getting a date is always slim. I mean I’ve seen people lining up outside Rajkumari Amrit Kaur OPD (AIIMS Delhi) in the night and not getting an appointment on the next day for said reasons. 

QR Codes have solved this problem to a great extent. 

In October last year, one of Delhi’s govt. hospitals Lady Hardinge Medical College and Smt. Sucheta Kriplani Hospital, located in Connaught Place, started a pilot project with QR-based OPD registration in their new OPD block which has now been extended to 347 hospitals. 

So how does this work? How hospitals in Delhi are using QR Code technology for OPD registration?

Well, patients can scan the QR Code of the selected hospital using the smartphone camera or through ABHA (Ayushman Bharat Health Account) or the Arogya Setu application and share their details with the facility. 

After that, the hospital allows a QUEUE Token no. which is notified to the patient on their smartphone as well as displayed on the counters at the OPD registration block for the convenience of the patients. 

Patients or their relatives can go to the OPD registration counter as per the QUEUE token no. and collect the OP slip required for consultation with a doctor. 

While this plan is aimed at reducing the waiting time to minutes from hours, there are still many complications as many patients are still unfamiliar with digital means of registration. And given the huge population of our country, this solution offers only a limited amount of relief to patients. 

Various hospitals also face the same issues of long queues and waiting times at labs where sample collection or even appointment is a complex task. So, hospitals are also using QR code solutions for the same. 

In many govt. and private hospitals, patient discharge is also an issue with patients having saved their health records digitally in their Ayushman Bharat Health Account, a QR-based solution can also be used for bill payments and patient discharge where patients are provided with their bill and a payment link. 

Limitations of QR-based Solutions in Hospitals 

While QR-based solutions, either via the website or a mobile application, only provide a part of the solution, a huge digital infrastructure is needed to use such a solution. Apart from infrastructure limitations from the hospital side, another limitation is the lack of knowledge and awareness among people. In India, even today, most patients who come to hospitals and wait for hours (sometimes days) to get an appointment are poor and digitally illiterate and what is needed to pull off a QR-based OPD registration solution is the deployment of on-spot associates can help people use this solution and spread more awareness amongst patients and families. 

Hospitals can also spread awareness of this solution and how people can use it to cut the waiting time short. 

To conclude, a QR-based solution to reduce the waiting time and to help people with appointments can be quite helpful if more and more people use it. The solution provides a seamless OPD registration using QR codes and tokens for appointments at OPD counters but a lack of awareness and know-how results in the failure of such solutions. Hospitals need to build a robust digital infrastructure to ensure privacy and data security as well as seamless integration of health records with QR Codes. Besides, spreading awareness and employing associates who can help patients with digital appointments is also needed to make this a success.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Sep 15, 2023

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