This blog is the final in our series, focusing on how QR codes are becoming an increasingly vital part of our daily lives. Given the novel coronavirus, we’ll continue to see QR code use surge in 2021 in healthcare – from patient wristbands to (potentially!) traveler’s vaccine passports.
QR code’s involvement in healthcare is perhaps the most important and evolving sector at the moment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been suggested that QR codes “will be one of the biggest contributors to healthcare” and that numerous hospitals around the country have already developed QR codes in their algorithms. For example, QR codes can be added onto a patient’s wristband, and with a single scan, the doctor can immediately access up-to-date information about the patient (medication prescribed, timings of medication, list of allergies, etc.). QR codes at hospitals also provides a smooth checkout experience for both the patient and the hospital, keeping operations running smoothly and efficiently.
This idea is further highlighted by author Shailendra Sinhasane in her blog post entitled, “How Healthcare Providers are Using QR Codes to Enhance Patient Outcomes”. Sinhasane informs readers that QR codes, “can reduce medical errors, enhance administration, save time and allow doctors to concentrate on their patients.” Sinhasane also highlights the versatility of the QR code throughout the healthcare sector, most notably within: healthcare marketing, patient identity management, patient health/medical information, medical equipment information, and drug safety.
The adoption of QR codes to streamline a hospitals workflow, improve patient outcome, and save time/cost is a no-brainer, one which will be seen in large proportions in 2021.
 Choudhary, Sneh Ratna. “Why 2021 Is the Year of QR Codes.” Beaconstac RSS, 24 Dec. 2020, blog.beaconstac.com/2019/02/why-2019-is-the-year-of-qr-codes/.
 Sinhasane , Shailendra. “How Healthcare Providers Are Using QR Codes to Enhance Patient Outcomes?” Mobisoft Infotech, 25 Nov. 2020, mobisoftinfotech.com/resources/blog/qr-codes-to-enhance-patient-outcome/.
The global pandemic has forced us all to take safety precautions and we know that masks, gloves, and social distancing are ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to maximize the safety of ourselves and those around us. As businesses continue with cautious re-openings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they are determining best practices for how to do so in a way that allows them to get back to some level of normalcy while giving their employees and customers peace of mind.
The silver lining in all of this is that there are several tactics which have now become staples of this current daily life that will presumably stay with us even beyond the pandemic.
One of the additions to life as we know it – which is really in its own revitalization of sorts – is QR codes at restaurants and eateries for contactless paying and ordering.
Contactless ordering and payment have become not only a ‘nice to have’ in restaurants but have taken hold as a must-have during these times. Independent establishments, chains, and even small venues have upgraded their payment systems to allow QR code functionality to bring food service to customers with limited physical exchange to employees and staff.
While going out to eat used bring about putting the phones down to enjoy each other’s company, now the phone is an integral component to a safer dining experience – and that may never change. Using a photo, enabling a QR code reader, and paying electronically are eliminating shared menus, shared bills, and – yes – shared germs.
So how does this all work?
When you arrive at the restaurant, you’ll certainly notice face masks and plastic shields protecting the host stand and other diners. At your table you will notice a (typically) laminated sheet or stand that has instructions directing you to use the QR code positioned front and center on it. When that QR code is simply scanned using your smartphone’s camera, a link will open to the restaurant’s menu pages.
QR codes have had widespread use for many years now but are seeing a resurgence especially as the CDC has recommended that restaurants, eateries, and bars use digital menus in limited the spread of the coronavirus. Many restaurants in larger cities had already been looking into touchless menu technology before the pandemic struck – and many patrons love the simplicity and ease of access – so the pandemic ushered the change along much quicker.
Even beyond the benefits of QR code menus for health and safety, there are additional advantages that come from applying the technology in restaurants.
Digital menus that utilize QR codes offer more flexibility and organization than a paper menu. The staff can quickly and easily update the digital menu to adjust items (such as add a dish, or remove one that’s sold out) and with some programs a restaurant could review and analyze data (such as what dish is most popular).
QR codes menus can have visuals, graphics, and video clips – which may be more appealing than the static photos on a paper menu. In a world where we love our Instagram and Facebook videos and gifs, applying that same thought to creative on a digital menu can be a huge hit. QR codes can also enable promotions, specials, and coupons right from the system.
The environmental impact is great as well as restauranteurs who are going to digital menus are not only reducing costs for themselves, but they are reducing waste!
With all of the positives in this silver lining, restaurant owners, industry experts, and marketers firmly believe that digital menus – and the QR codes that enable them – are here to stay. Smartphones are already part of our everyday routines, and now they will be fully engrained in our dining experiences as well.
We all want to be safe and we all want to get back to some level of normal. That said, long after a vaccine comes along the QR codes and digital menus will remain. They make contactless ordering and payment that much safer, quicker, and easier. The future of dining is here to stay.
Often we read about QR codes being used to sell or market goods to consumers, but here is a new use – bumblebee research. Researchers have created a new way to study the buzzing bees – attach QR codes to their backs. Using a special vacuum, the bees are collected and put in a refrigerator to chill thereby rendering them immobilized. Once immobilized, very small, simplified QR codes are superglued to their backs. Previously researchers would stand over colonies, tracking the behavior of individual bees. Its hard to believe they would not confuse the bees as they all look similar. The system, called BEEtag, allows cameras to automatically monitor hundreds of bees at all times, allowing reseachers to learn about their personalities and interactions. Bumblebees may all look alike, but research using QR codes has shown that they actually have lots of personality. Some are more active than others, some forage all day, and other remain more in the nest. With bee populations on the decline recently, this information is certainly important and the implications for other similar research methods are aplenty. For example, it has been suggested that pesticides may have to go through testing with BEEtag before receiving regulatory approval. Assistant Professor Stacey Combes’ research with former Harvard graduate student James Crall on this was recently published in Nature Communications. Great to see people using QR codes to help our insect friends.
Restaurants have been adding interactive technology to their tables allowing users to view the menu and order on a tablet – there are even games for kids. Some of these tablets allows diners to pay without waiting for a check to be delivered. Pretty convenient, right? It gets better. A Japanese restaurant in London has become one of the first in applying the QR code technology in the kitchen. ICHIBUNS has created the first burger bun branded QR code. The company has partnered with mobile-payment servicers, Zapper. The idea is supposed to allow customers to make easy, fast, and safe payments for the food by scanning the code on the bun with a smartphone. Diners can leave a tip and split the bill. Users need to download the app to pay which is made simple – all they need to do is scan the QR code on the bun.
To incentivize users, ICHIBUNS is offering customers £7 off their first bill and other exclusive rewards. Benjamin Goldkorn, CEO of ICHIBUNS, said: “Our goal with ICHIBUNS was to be a restaurant experience like no other, and our partnership with Zapper is a great way to achieve this, allowing us to be at the forefront of hospitality innovation by offering much more than just a payment service. Combining it with our own app also allows us to give something back to our amazing, loyal customers, with discounts and prizes available to win.” We think it is safe to say this would be an experience like no other. Our question was what if you’re starving and quickly bite into that juicy wagyu beef burger only to realize that part of the QR code is now missing? Fear not. Your QR code is also printed on the menu.
standard.co.uk/go/london/restaurants/you-can-pay-for-this-burger-with-the-qr-code-on-its-bun-a3927991.html (IMAGE CRED to this site).
The student-led protest group, March For Our Lives, which emerged after the tragic events that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, FL, has gotten innovative with their use of QR Codes in their focus on opposing gun violence.
Former Stoneman student, Jammal Lemy, a local T-shirt designer, was asked by the group to design t-shirts to help fund their tour around the US. The shirts depict and American flag-like symbol with a QR Code where the stars would be.
The stripes have been altered, with several more added an varying thickness resembling linear barcodes. The objective is to help register as many youth voters as possible for the November midterms. Simply scanning the QR Code with their smartphones sends the scanner to a voter registration page.
With 38 states allowing online registration, the shirts will likely make an impact (especially in the upcoming November elections). In fact, it has been reported that as of a week ago approximately 10,000 people have already registered to vote by simply using the shirts — and utilizing QR Codes!