Scan4Safety at Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust: a longitudinal study 

A hand holding a stethoscope in what looks to be a medical room.


NHS REC ref 23/NE/0140
LTHT R&I No: GM23/160260

The integration of barcode scanning and RFID (radio-frequency identification) technologies in healthcare settings for the identification and location tracking of items and patients can significantly contribute to enhancing patient safety and operational efficiency, and significantly curtailing waste by optimising inventory management.

Central to these technologies is the use of GS1 codes, a globally recognized standard for barcoding across various sectors, including healthcare. In response to patient safety incidents, and in view of a need to improve efficiency in procurement, the Department of Health & Social Care in England launched 2015 the Scan4Safety programme (2015 to 2019). This initiative was designed to bolster the adoption of barcoding in NHS hospitals. A key participant in this initiative was Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT), which served as a demonstrator site together with five other hospitals in England.

As a demonstrator site, LTHT undertook a comprehensive implementation of the Scan4Safety programme, encompassing barcoding and related systems for both inventory management and patient care, across the entire hospital. After the end of the official programme, LTHT has continued to develop its Scan4Safety technologies, with ongoing initiatives across the hospital.

With this study, we aim to learn from the experience of LTHT. We aim to delve into the intricacies of technology implementation in healthcare, focusing on the strategies, challenges encountered, and outcomes experienced, along with documenting the best practices that emerged from this initiative. 

Research overview

We aim to draw a comprehensive picture of the operational, clinical, and environmental benefits, as well as challenges, derived from the use of identification technologies and standards, such as barcoding and location tracking. To achieve this, our research methodology includes a mix of approaches: conducting interviews with key stakeholders, analysing internal and external documentation, observing the technology in use, and collecting feedback from patients. A key goal of our research is to identify and articulate effective practices and lessons learned that would benefit the wider NHS community.

We anticipate that the findings from this study will yield practical guidelines and policy recommendations, aiding healthcare institutions in harnessing the potential of scanning and barcoding technology to enhance patient care and improve operational workflows. Ultimately, our research endeavours to provide a rich, nuanced understanding of the technology adoption process within the healthcare sector, shedding light on its complexities and paving the way for future innovations.