Do First Responders Read QR codes?


Over the past two days amidst the lights of Las Vegas, the 2015 EMS World Expo has attracted Medical First Responders from around the world. The keynote speakers and attendees are talking about and looking for trends, policies, and news that affect their profession no matter how hopeful or burdensome.

The cool factor of the Expo is definitely the new TV show on ABC, “Boston EMS“. A live EMS show was tried 10 years ago in New York City, but it was too soon for its time. Privacy issues and lack of interest in “reality paramedic TV” kept the series to just one episode. But now, it’s a popular show and reveals the real-life scenarios paramedics face every day.

At the Exhibit Hall, companies are vying for attention with products new or not so recent in their life cycles. The reason the term “QR Codes” headlines this blog is due to one unique exhibitor with a simple product offering. Theirs is a medical ID wrist band without the data written on the wrist band. That’s where the QR Code comes in. This code is the only viewable information on the band. It is designed to be “read” by a First Responder with a smart phone that can access the data behind the code. Wearers pre-populate their medical information into an online form. That data is instantly accessed during the medical emergency to augment accurate diagnosis at the point-of-care. 

Great idea, right? But, this simple access route to a patient’s personal medical record depends on one thing. It requires First Responders to be adept at using their personal or assigned mobile device to assist with triage in determining the next steps of care.  It’s no surprise that this company has chosen an initial target market with a strong interest in quick-to-access medical data: Triathletes and their sporting events.

Time will tell if next generation Fire/EMS personnel will embrace technology for access to real-time information that leads to favorable patient outcomes. The consumer demand may justify it, but adoption may be limited to those professionals who are tech savvy.

It’s all about practicing medicine from a baseline of critical data versus guessing.

-Lance Manning, Co-Founder of 1st Minute App

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One response to “Do First Responders Read QR codes?”

  1. Greg Friese says:

    Many vendors have offered a QR-scannable medical ID bracelet with what appears to be very limited success. QR-code scanning does not seem ubiquitous in the general population and I see fewer and fewer QR codes on signs, ads, etc.