Healthcare IT Blog

Articles on Printing and Peripherals

Published on 04/11/2013 by Chris Lichtenberg
Category: Printing and Peripherals

Specialty printers are basically dumb. Sure they have CPUs, 1-2MB of memory, and Network Interface Cards (NICs) that interface with the printing engine.  They can have a verifier attached, or a wireless NIC.  They could employ MCL, RFID, NFC and host of other acronyms.  They could come with a manual that makes you think you need a PhD.  And, yet, they can act like Sergeant Schultz (from Hogan’s Heroes) in the production environment.  “I know nothing! I see nothing! I hear nothing!”

Case in point: Users complain of poor print quality for the specimen labels. The analzyers can’t read the pock-marked faded barcode.  So someone from IT comes down, cleans the printhead and maybe adjusts the heat setting.  After a batch run an hour later, the issue is back.  (Did it ever leave in the first place?) The same IT guy comes down, and repeats the same process.  Two hours later, the problem is back again.  IT calls the vendor for support and loses additional time dealing with this inconvenience.

Fast forward to the next day.  Now your IT guy and the nursing staff are contemplating the next step; either replacing the printhead or re-enacting the fax scene from the movie “Office Space”.

These printers will generally do what the label format from MEDITECH tells it to do regardless of the settings on the printer.

You could have a 1-inch long label in the printer but if the job coming from MEDITECH is made for 2 inches, it will print 2 inches.  You could set the heat and speed on the printer for better print quality and verify it with the printer’s test label.  However, if the label format sends the heat and print speed, the printer will overwrite the manual settings.  There is a place in MEDITECH to make a change to the format, but imagine doing that on an individual basis.   Those changes could be nightmarish to troubleshoot.

Fortunately, some printers can be configured to ignore incoming commands.  For example, Datamax-O’Neil and Cognitive offer printers can be configured to ignore certain commands involving heat, speed, and start of position.  This affords the end user or IT department the freedom to adjust to suit individual needs without impacting MEDITECH, and the degree of flexibility required should be a consideration when selecting a printer.

So, before unleashing your frustrations on that printer that won’t do what you want it to do, just remember that it’s doing what it’s told.

 Chris Lichtenberg

Chris Lichtenberg is a Technical Consultant at Park Place International, with 13 years' experience supporting MEDITECH hospitals.  He specializes in Barcode Printing, Advanced Data Capture, Verification, and Mobility Solutions.  In addition to printing and peripherals, Chris is knowledgeable and experienced in a variety of MEDITECH-certified technologies, including Cisco, HP, DELL, EMC, VMware, and Bridgehead backup solutions.