- Department of Neurosurgery, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Pieter L Kubben
Department of Neurosurgery, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands
DOI:10.4103/2152-7806.83386Copyright: © 2011 Kubben PL. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
How to cite this article: Kubben PL. QR codes in neurosurgery. Surg Neurol Int 30-Jul-2011;2:104
How to cite this URL: Kubben PL. QR codes in neurosurgery. Surg Neurol Int 30-Jul-2011;2:104. Available from: http://sni.wpengine.com/surgicalint_articles/qr-codes-in-neurosurgery/
Everyone of you will be familiar with the linear bar codes that are used in shops, or maybe for patient identification in your hospital. Dedicated bar code scanners are used to link the bar code to a specific type of information, like a product price in a shop or a patient identity in a hospital.
Using modern information technology, the use of bar codes can be much more than just these examples. Smartphones with integrated cameras can be used to recognize bar codes and link them to products or new information sources (website, multimedia, and address). This development leads to a need for more advanced bar codes that would offer:
easy and fast recognition, and a wider range of individual bar codes to reliably identify all information sources.
easy and fast recognition, and
a wider range of individual bar codes to reliably identify all information sources.
A new sort of “bar codes” was originally developed for the automobile industry, but is now used in a much broader context.[
To recognize a QR code, you need a camera. Although it can be done using a webcam, the most convenient use for QR codes is with mobile devices that have an integrated webcam. There are many (also free) apps available that can use the device camera to capture a QR code and “translate” it into the corresponding destination, which can be shown immediately.
Although the classic bar codes could be replaced by QR codes, there is no need to do so. Within a shop or within a hospital, they offer enough combinations to mark all products or patients individually. However when the purpose is to uniquely identify a website, a document, multimedia files or address on Google Maps, then QR codes are very useful. Weblogs have already hypothesized about possible areas of use for healthcare.[
Suppose you talked to a patient about a surgical procedure that will be performed, and you hand over a brochure with additional information. Of course this brochure could contain web addresses with video demonstrations or explanation. However, the same brochure could also include a QR code that directly links to this website. Then, there is no need to retype that web address (with the possibility of typing errors) or to write it down somewhere. The patient just opens the QR reader, points the camera to the QR code, and can directly access the information on the (mobile) device. No typing, no difficult web addresses, and no spelling mistakes. The QR codes can be created using several online services, some of them also work for free. For privacy and security reasons, QR codes can also be encoded.[
The same can be said for postoperative physical exercises. A physiotherapist may offer support the first few days after surgery, and give advice on how to continue some exercises after discharge. Also here a QR code can be used as an easy way to access multimedia sources on the web that contain video demonstrations of the exercises, or some additional suggestions for a good recovery.
You can also use it in your presentations or on the handouts. Even your business card can contain a QR code to assist your colleagues in finding your practice or you personally on
Surgical Neurology International started placing a QR code on the PDF version of all its articles. If you see the QR code on a printed version of the article, you can directly visit the corresponding web (HTML) version by using your QR code reader. Due to the open-access nature of the journal, this gives you direct, full access to the whole article, including links to download the article as a PDF (or even EPUB) yourself.
If you have additional suggestions on how to implement QR codes in neurosurgical practice or Surgical Neurology International, please let me know.
1. Fontelo P, Liu F, Ducut EG. QR code for medical information uses. AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2008. 945:
2. Last accessed on 2011 Jun 19. Available from: http://rocksinthesandbox.com/2010/12/03/five-ways-to-use-qr-codes-in-your-medical-practice/.
4. Last accessed on 2011 Jun 19. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code.