A QR code, which stands for Quick Response
code, is one of the most rapidly disseminating innovations
the technology has to offer. QR codes are two-dimensional
barcodes . As the name suggests these codes can
be scanned at a much faster rate as compared to the
barcodes. QR codes were first introduced by Denso Wave,
a subsidiary of Toyota to swiftly scan the vehicle parts
during the manufacturing process . In the recent times,
QR codes have gained wide acceptance and can be seen
on most of the articles ranging from grocery and daily
use products to medicines, online payment wallets and
patient tags. The QR codes are basically symbols, which
can be scanned using lasers, or camera based systems and
information like product serials and specifications can be
encoded into these symbols.
Figure 1: QR Codes are 2-D Matrix Barcodes
QR codes are said to be the next generation of barcodes.
Barcodes were first introduced in 1970s. These are set
of parallel lines and numbers which can store up to 20
characters and are very commonly seen on all the retail
products. Information such as commodity prices, date of
manufacturing etc. can be easily encoded in such barcodes.
Introduction of barcodes revolutionized the retail industry
as information could be scanned in seconds using specially
designed laser units and there was no need to feed the
quantity and pricing information manually. The QR codes
were introduced to store much more information. They can store around 4500 alphanumeric characters, are scanned
much more quickly and allow for much higher margins
of error. Quick response codes have the ability to handle
different types of data such as numeric and alphabetic
characters. QR codes have the advantage of smaller
printout size, high speed scanning and can be recognized
correctly even if 50% areas of barcode are damaged .
QR codes can be read by freely available software using
any Smartphone, tablet or laptop with a camera, or by a
QR code scanner. Due to the constant rise in people using
smartphones, QR codes have also gained significance as
now most of the people can scan them with a single click.
QR codes have been found to have widespread
application in medical and dental world. In hospitals QR
codes are mainly used for patient identification. QR codes
are printed on the patient wristbands or patient files so
as to have easy patient identification and get knowledge
about the history and other significant findings. QR codebased technology has higher data storage capacity, lower
implementation cost, technical simplicity and has the wide
availability of free programs for reading and decoding by
camera-equipped smartphones. These features make this
technology attractive for patient identification purposes,
especially for institutions in developing countries with
limited sources .
QR codes with so many advantages have found
their way into the Orthodontist's offices also. They have
been used for many purposes like patient management,
record keeping, appliance identification, inventory
management, practice marketing, patient education,
student work assessment and forensic identification. QR
codes are very useful in busy Orthodontic practices. Every
time a new patient comes, the OPD Card of the patient
can be labeled with a QR code. All the information about
the patient can be encoded into this code so that whenever
the patient comes only a single scan can reveal all the
information and significant findings about the patient.
This has an important role in patient management as
appointments of the patients can be very easily recorded.
By a single scan the Orthodontist can know what all
mechanics and materials have been used on the patient in
the past and also if the patient is timely reporting for the
QR codes are an excellent tool for record keeping.
Orthodontics unlike all other branches has much more
significance of patient records, as they need to be stored
for a very long duration of time and need to be assessed
every now and then to know about the treatment progress.
The records of the patient can be labeled with QR codes with provides with easy identification of the records. Also
by creating a database information can be stored in the QR
code on patients OPD card indicating the location of the
records of the patient. This helps in saving a lot of valuable
clinical time .
Figure 2: Patient Study Model with QR Code
QR codes also have a role to play in identification of
patient appliances and providing instructions to the patient
regarding their appliances. The QR code can be printed on
a paper, after being laminated it can be incorporated into
the orthodontic appliance. The Orthodontists can scan the
QR code to identify which patient's appliance it is. Also
instructions regarding the appliance can also be encoded
into QR code, which can be scanned by the patient at
their convenience. This helps to decrease the necessity
of verbally reinforcing the instructions to the patient. QR
codes also form an excellent tool for patient education.
Patients can be shown hundreds of educational videos
or images just by scanning the code. The code can be
shared with the patients and their parent, thus by helping
the increasing awareness among them. Being technology
friendly this helps to evoke an enthusiasm in today's
Figure 3: QR Code on a Hyrax Key Can Guide the Patient about Activation Schedule and Also Link to a Video Showing How to Activate the Hyrax can be Encoded
QR codes can be used for dental education and
student work assessment. Interactive fixed and removable appliance video libraries can be designed for students where
they can scan the code and learn about the appliance or any
dental technique. This provide with a better and practical
approach toward education. Most of the dental journals
are labeled with QR codes and scanning the code opens
the online version of the article. The regular appliance
fabrication done by the students during their orthodontic
training can be labeled and scanned. This helps to know
the amount of work each student has done.
QR codes can be used as an important tool for
inventory management. Inventory management is a difficult
part of Orthodontic practice due to the involvement of
such a huge inventory. Majority of the Orthodontic articles
have been labeled using barcodes or QR codes, which can
be used to know about the inventory in the Orthodontic
office. With the help of practice management software,
this can be used to alert the Orthodontist and the support
staff regarding the depleting supplies. QR codes have also
been popularly used for practice marketing in orthodontics.
Orthodontists can provide the patient with visiting card
with QR codes to guide them for proper location of the
Orthodontist's office. Such a gesture though small, helps
to attract more patients and provides an insight into the
state of the art and technological friendly atmosphere of
the orthodontic office.
Figure 4a: Using QR Codes for Getting Location
Figure 4b: Patient?s denture labelled with QR code can be scanned to know the details of the patient 4
QR codes with such extensive potentials have a few limitations to their use also. The most significant of
them being the necessity to punch the information. For
encoding the information it needs to be first feeded into a
QR code generator, which requires time and personnel. Also
the information regarding the mechanics used in a patient
and appointment schedule needs to be constantly updated,
so that the QR code provides with the latest information.
Thus data entry requirements are more when using QR
codes. Another disadvantage with the use of QR codes is
that they can scanned by anyone, putting patient's privacy
at a risk.
Nonetheless, QR codes have very widespread
applications and should be a routine part of any
Orthodontist's office. They can have further innovative
applications making the practice much more efficient
and technology friendly. As the law of the nature, one
must evolve to keep surviving in this world with cut
throat competition for survival. Hence embracing new
technologies such as QR codes provides with an edge to
the Orthodontist's office.