Volume 8 Supplement 1
Barcode data entry for film reading: information loss and consequences
© BioMed Central 2006
Published: 10 July 2006
Barcode data entry for screening mammography offers the attractive possibility of speeding-up a labour-intensive process. Currently, significant time is spent manipulating paper forms with the additional potential for error that this incurs. However, the barcode data entry systems introduced in some centres allow the film reader to enter only a decision. By contrast, film readers using paper forms frequently annotate the forms to record additional information.
Concerned by the possible consequences of this information loss, we conducted an ethnographically based study of film reading with paper-based data recording to investigate use of the forms, and contrasted this with barcode data entry. Results reveal that the paper forms provide an important communication tool, fostering collaboration between readers. Specifically, they are used by readers: to indicate an area of concern, and the nature of that concern, to a second reader or arbitration meeting; to indicate to another reader that they have noted a particular feature but decided that it is not of concern; for future reference as a personal learning tool; and to express uncertainty and seek reassurance from another reader. We conclude that barcode systems should either support richer data entry or continue to be supplemented with paper forms.