Capturing Pharmacy Activities Using Barcode Technology

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Recording pharmacy activities beyond clinical pharmacist interventions is challenging. Traditional methods of manual data collection are cumbersome and time consuming. Technology, such as barcode scanners, has the potential to provide a portable, reproducible and simplified approach to data collection. Allied health disciplines at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney successfully switched from manually collecting daily activity data to an electronic system using barcode technology (Activity BarCoding).


To introduce Activity BarCoding into the pharmacy department and collect data on daily pharmacy activities.


Activity BarCoding software was installed and barcode scanners were purchased. Based on the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia's definitions, pharmacy activities were divided into: clinical care, management, distribution services, research, and teaching and training. Sub-categories were developed for each activity type, as well as interventions to describe clinical activity. Barcodes were produced for all activities. After a 6-month development phase, implementation began in June 2011. The system was rolled out over 18 months to all pharmacy staff. 12 months after implementation, pharmacists were surveyed about their perceptions of the Activity BarCoding system.


During November 2012, 39 users recorded 5809.5 hours of activity - 22% (1279.3 h) clinical care, 44% (2573.7 h) distribution services, 13% (777.5 h) management, 2% (96.6 h) research and 1% (61.5 h) teaching and training. Inpatient and outpatient dispensary activities accounted for 40% (1033.5 h) and 28% (712.5 h) of the distribution hours, respectively. Of the 20 users surveyed, 55% disagreed and 15% strongly disagreed that data collection was too labour intensive.


Activity BarCoding was successfully introduced into the pharmacy department to collect data on daily pharmacy activities. The system was flexible, easy to use and integrated well into a busy work place.

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