Barcode scanner dilemma

barcode_scanAs barcoding in pharmacies grows in popularity I get exposed to more and more barcoding equipment; particularly barcode scanners. Our carousels utilize barcode scanners from Code Corp, our AutoPack system utilizes a barcode scanner from Honeywell – previously Handheld – and our barcode medication administration system will use a yet-to-be-determined scanner. In addition, I’ve accumulated a nice collection of various scanners in my office including wireless, Bluetooth and tethered.

As mentioned above, our AutoCarousel system from Talyst utilizes barcode scanners from Code Corp, specifically the CR3 scanner. The scanner has been quite reliable, but requires a little manipulation during use to get a clean read on the barcode. The CR3 uses two lenses, so when it looks at a barcode it’s kind of like someone with bifocals trying to focus on a page in a book. It takes a second, but once you figure it out you’re in business. The only major issue with the scanner is what I would consider a design flaw in the battery handle. The battery handle has a small plastic piece on the back that acts as a guide for the reader as it is snapped onto the handle. Unfortunately this little plastic piece likes to snap off when the scanner gets dropped, rendering it useless. We’ve managed to break three handles is just the last few months alone. I digress.

A couple of months ago Talyst sent me a shinny new Code Reader 3500. The scanner uses a single wide angle lens, which makes the scanning area a little more forgiving, creating a faster scan. The technicians loved it. Unfortunately, we had a bit of trouble with the scanner when it came to combination barcodes like a Micro-PDF stacked atop a GS1 barcode. We ended up sending the scanner back.

While at ASHP Midyear I stumbled on the Code Corp booth in the exhibit hall and mentioned the problem to one of the reps. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but apparently the gentleman I spoke with was CEO of the company. He sent a representative to Kaweah Delta yesterday to resolve the problem. I was impressed.

The rep provided me with a new Code Reader 3500, programmed it, and tested it. Everything went great and he went on his merry way all the way back to Utah. I thought all was good in the world until this afternoon when one of my technicians attacked me in the pharmacy and asked me to please return her old scanner to its rightful place. It turns out that my testing wasn’t nearly thorough enough. The scanner worked like a charm for most general operations, but wouldn’t let the technician scan items back into the carousel. I am stumped.

Back to the drawing board.

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