Should we be teaching Healthcare Professionals to read QR Codes OR search “How to” on YouTube?

Should we teach HCPs to use QRCodes or search HowTo on YouTube

In the mHealth for Healthcare Professionals course that we developed we decided that it’s best to teach Healthcare professionals how to find content and tag videos they upload (so that they can be found and generate feedback from audiences) rather than use QR Codes so it’s interesting that NHS Hospitals have taken the opposite approach.

I thought it might be helpful to list the reasons why I think we should be teaching Healthcare Professionals to search “How to” on YouTube and not stickering everything up with QR Codes:

It’s important we appreciate and accept there are technical hurdles for staff

I think one great thing about having a QR Code on equipment is that it’s making it very clear that the Hospital senior management knows that the training they are providing to staff on equipment is insufficient, that the equipment is challenging to operate, isn’t very well designed and that management are happy for you to learn how to use it while working rather than try to just start using it without any training.

Deployment time/costs

With the “How to” approach you can sit in a lecture on the mHealth course and come out and your entire world is ready to be searched on YouTube and you immediately start making video producers aware of unmet demand (they get to see the keywords used to find their content and this gives them ideas for creating new videos). Want to know how the timer works for your central heating at home? Search the brand name you see written on it on YouTube together with the word “user guide”. Want to know what that odd looking buttons on your car dashboard that you’ve never use actually do? Search for your car make/model dashboard guide on YouTube. Once you’re familiar with the process doing a search on the equipment you use at work might be something you can start doing on your commute to the Hospital or during a coffee break at work eg. when you’re told that you’ll be getting this new equipment delivered next week.

With the QR Code approach to learning you have a situation that you need to be told what these little boxes are and why/when you should use them and then you have to find them and then go to the hassle of doing it for the first time when you’re on the ward (and presumably stood in front of a Patient/Family).

Security concerns

I think the technical/security differences between searching on YouTube for the “NHSEngland WelychAllyn Vital Signs Monitor Manual” and opening a QR Code reading app to then photo a QR Code stuck onto a VS machine are widely misunderstood. Here are a few concerns:

QR Code reading apps need to compete for downloads against many rivals so most have gone with the freemium model where the user gets the app for free and advertisers pay the developers for either having their ads show on the screen (auto playing videos etc) or collecting data from the healthcare professional. Mobile Device Management is making things easier but with mobile devices in Hospitals we need to ensure that staff understand the potential risks with private Patient information on the device being shared with app developers and advertisers.

If someone sticks a dodgy QR Code on a piece of equipment in the hospital to direct staff to their website would it undermine the whole project? Would the hospital have to send staff out checking all the deployed QR Codes and removing all the ones that aren’t genuine or have been tampered with?

Do QR Codes pass your Mother Test?

Can you imagine being a Patient and seeing your Nurse/Doctor snapping a picture of a piece of equipment they’re about to use on you so that they can watch a training video on how to use it? If I was the Patient I’d be up and out the door before the video had even started to load!

What are the limits to what we can QR Code label?

On Twitter I asked Simon Potter what equipment in a Hospital he thinks could benefit from a QR Code linked to a how to video and he straight away listed Patient coolers/warmers, NIVs, nebulisers, syringe drivers. I can think of a million other things (beds, toilets, showers, baths, lifting hoists, custom procedure trays, etc,e etc) but can’t imagine what the costs of all this labelling would be nor how ridiculous this future “Hospital for Dummies” would start to look!

Hospital Bed of the future


What do you think? Should the NHS start routinely QR Code labelling things or ask suppliers to “#NHSEngland #Manual” tag their YouTube how to instruction manual videos?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s