Use a Barcode Scanner to Manage Immunization Lot Inventory

You can use a barcode scanner to manage your vaccine inventory in PCC EHR. Managing your inventory and administrations using barcode scanners will save time and reduce errors.

Plan and Prepare

How do you get started implementing barcode scanning for immunization inventory at your practice?

Where Are Your Imms? When Do You Enter Your Lots Into Inventory?

First, evaluate how you currently store and load in immunization inventory. Are you using PCC EHR’s Lot Manager to track your lots? Do you have a workstation or laptop that can be easily accessed near your immunization refrigerator?

You can learn more about the Lot Manager in PCC EHR here: Immunization Lots and Vaccine Inventory Management

Purchase Barcode Scanners

Next, you’ll need a barcode scanner. PCC currently recommends two models from Zebra:

A portable, bluetooth scanner may be easier to use, particularly when you’re administering vaccines. However, each bluetooth scanner can only be paired with one workstation at a time. A corded or “tethered” barcode scanner doesn’t need to be charged, can easily be swapped between devices, and is less expensive. However, for vaccine administration, it might be tricky to carry a laptop and tethered scanner in and out of exam rooms.

Other Barcode Scanners?: If you have experience with other barcode scanners, please get in touch, we’d love to learn about them. Some scanners work poorly with immunization boxes and vials that have a dark background behind the barcode. If you buy a low-quality scanner, you may be dissatisfied with performance.

How Many Scanners Do You Need?

Scanners are used both for entering new vaccines into inventory and for administering vaccines. So, determine how many people in your practice might be working with vaccines at the same time. Is there one workstation by the vaccine fridge that everyone uses to track inventory? Then maybe you only need one corded scanner. Do all your nurses carry their own laptops? Perhaps each one needs their own bluetooth scanner. As always, call your Client Advocate for help determining quantity.

One Scanner per Computer: Because of the way bluetooth works, a scanner can only pair with one computer at a time. Swapping bluetooth scanners from one laptop to another is a complicated and time-consuming process. If you use bluetooth scanners, you will need one scanner per computer.

Figure Out Your Workflow

Finally, get your staff together and play with the scanner in the Lot Manager in PCC EHR.

You’ll notice that if you scan a lot number that is already active, it will open up that lot for you so you can make changes. You may need to adjust your usual workflow for adding lots and how you move/mark boxes to indicate that they’ve been added to your PCC EHR inventory.

Review and Update Immunization Configuration, CPT, CVX and MVX Codes

Barcode scanning is based on CVX codes on the immunizations that you administer.

If you use a barcode scanner on an immunization that is not recognized by your system, it may mean your system’s CVX codes are not up-to-date. You can learn how to review and fix that by reading the CVX and MVX Codes in PCC article.

Contact your PCC Client Advocate to help with immunization configuration.

Give Us a Call!

Throughout the process, feel free to give us a call. We can help you figure out how to use the Lot Manager, how to use barcodes to track vaccine administrations, and how to integrate scanners into your workflow.

ThinLinc, Virtual PCC EHR Access: Barcode scanners work great on PC and Apple workstations, whether connecting to your server with the PCC EHR client application or via an RDP connection. They do not work as well with some browser-based ThinLinc connections. Contact your Client Advocate if you wish to perform barcode scanning from a remote location and you use a ThinLinc connection.

How to Scan a New Immunization Lot

To enter a new lot, simply open the Lot Manager, click the “Scan” button, and scan the barcode.

Always Ready: The Lot Manager is always listening for input from a barcode scanner; you can scan without clicking the “Scan” button, saving a step in your workflow.

If the lot scanned is a new lot, the Add Lot window will open and auto-fill all the information it retrieves from the barcode.

You can manually make any adjustments, enter a funding source and the quantity, and then click “Save” to add the lot.

Use the Square Barcode, Not the Lines: Vaccine manufacturers use 2D barcodes on packaging to store information. The 2D barcode will be a square-shaped collection of smaller squares (as opposed to a 1D barcode which is a series of vertical lines, like you would expect to see on food packaging at the grocery store). QR codes that you might scan with your phone are an everyday example of a 2D barcode.

Primary vs. Secondary Packaging: Barcodes can be found on both primary packaging (e.g. the vials that contain the vaccine) and secondary packaging (e.g. the box that contains the vials). The information contained in each is the same, and you can scan either one.

Update Details on an Existing Lot, Scanning a Lot Already In the Manager

If you scan a lot that is already tracked in your system, you will see a list of matching lots at your location. Select the appropriate lot, or click “Add New Lot” if you want to create a new lot.

Expired Lots, Missing CVX Codes, and Other Issues

If you scan a lot that is expired, PCC EHR will give you a warning, and you can not add it automatically. If you wish, you can still enter the new lot manually.

Additionally, if you scan a lot that has a CVX code your system does not recognize, you will see a warning message. Work with your Client Advocate to adjust your practice’s PCC immunization configuration. (You can learn more about CVX codes by reading the CVX and MVX Codes.)

Finally, if a barcode is damaged or otherwise unreadable, you will see a “The Barcode Could Not Be Read” error. You can still enter the lot manually in the Lot Manager.

Can You Scan As You Administer a Vaccine?

Later in 2018, PCC will implement administration immunization barcode scanning. As of PCC 8.3 (2018-02), you can use barcode scanning for adding new lots and updating lot inventory details.

CDC Training Materials and Videos

When 2D vaccine barcode scanning became a national standard, the U.S. CDC created materials and training videos to help healthcare providers get started.

They talk about the difference between a 2D and traditional barcode, and give helpful scanning tips for clinicians.

You can download the materials and watch their training videos here:

Two-Dimensional (2D) Vaccine Barcoding – For Providers

  • Last modified: February 14, 2019