Zippy has a special surprise for pediatric patients - a Zippy LaserBand
By Shannon Swanson | November 09, 2022

We’ve Reached a Huge Milestone in Our Healthcare Journey, and We Have You (and Zippy) to Thank! (Now, It’s Our Turn to Help You.)

Technology doesn’t cure all ailments, but it can help people prevent, cope with and heal from illnesses and injuries. That’s why we’re changing up Zebra’s healthcare roadmap just a bit and making some special stops.

I’ll never forget what Zebra’s Global Healthcare Practice Lead, Chris Sullivan, said at HIMSS 2022:

“Healthcare professionals need a reprieve, and patients need high-quality passionate care no matter the circumstances. Let’s use the technology tools we have at our disposal to build a more unified and collaborative global healthcare model that provides caregivers the means to support patients’ healing process without compromising their own well-being.”

Though I’m not a solution engineer or a clinician, I have spent the last 20+ years working in healthcare. I’ve seen the power of technology at the point of care and the impact it can have on patient outcomes. That’s why I took Chris’ call to action to heart and started looking into new ways that Zebra’s technology tools can support patients’ healing process. More specifically, I wanted to see if we could improve patient experiences throughout their entire healthcare journey by using our technology to bring a little more joy to their lives. 

After meeting with Tony Cecchin, Vice President and General Manager of Zebra’s Global Supplies and Sensors Business, I realized that one way we could help pediatric patients have a more enjoyable journey is by connecting them with our beloved mascot Zippy the Zebra

Millions of pediatric patients are given Zebra LaserBand wristbands when they’re admitted into the hospital, and they wear these wristbands during their entire stay. It’s how doctors, nurses and other staff can positively identify them when collecting specimens, administering medication and conducting other care activities. So, we thought we could make a difference by printing a very large batch of special edition* pediatric LaserBands featuring Zippy and distribute them, along with copies of our award-winning children’s book Zippy’s Special Gift and a plush Zippy, to pediatric patients around the U.S., just in time for the holidays.

A hospital stay for a child can come with a series of emotions – they may feel scared, nervous, sad, angry, or all the above. We want them to know that they’re not alone – that they can look down at Zippy on their LaserBand and know someone is always with them on this journey. Plus, we think that once they really get to know Zippy and her special gifts (when they read the book), they’ll start to discover their special gifts too, such as their incredible strength! 

Of course, we know patients of all ages could use a little reassurance that everything will be okay when they’re on a journey of healing. That’s just one of the reasons why we got started on our healthcare journey at Zebra over 15 years ago. Our bigger objective was to help unburden the delivery of care.

Caregivers have been running on empty for a while – the pandemic just exacerbated things – and they’re increasingly being asked to do more in the same amount of time. The problem is that, fundamentally, nothing will change unless we give them tools that enable them to do things differently. So, we have made it our mission at Zebra to help healthcare change how it operates for the betterment of both clinician and patient experiences. 

What specifically are we doing to help ease the burden for caregivers? That’s something that Tony did a great job answering for me recently:

In our short discussion, he also explained what drives our continued innovation in the healthcare space today:

As you can see, Zebra really walks the talk in terms of innovating for the sake of front-line workers. Our one job is to make their jobs easier. So, every decision we make in terms of research and development (R&D), product design, partnerships with other companies and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) stems from one question: 

“How will this action help us help healthcare workers so they can better support patients?”

In fact, Mike Thieme, who joined Zebra via the acquisition of LaserBand, and now serves as Vice President of Global Supplies Operations at Zebra, has found it interesting to see just how significantly the barcoded wristband has improved healthcare experiences for both clinicians and patients. He and his team knew the LaserBand wristband would change healthcare forever, simply because of how it would help automate positive patient identification (PPID) and expedite electronic health record (EHR) access and updates.

“Having a legible, easy-to-scan wristband is such a big deal, even though many people outside the healthcare community may not realize it. It helps verify the patient’s identity even if they aren’t able to speak, and it allows for a fast retrieval of a patient’s full medical history via the EHR. Plus, taking a split second to scan a barcode versus spending however long trying to translate someone’s handwritten notes makes such a difference in staff productivity and efficiency,” Mike noted. 

He's right. 

Barcoded wristbands give nurses and other clinical staff more time to focus on the patient. They’re also more settled when PPID and EHR actions are more automated. In turn, they can be more focused. And when they’re feeling better mentally and physically, bedside patient care improves. 

So, I asked Mike about the role the barcoded wristband might play moving forward as the healthcare community adopts new ways to monitor patients. Will the LaserBand still be around 10 years from now? Or should we expect to see patient ID wristbands evolving into something else? This is what he had to say:

I actually asked Tony the same question because of the role he plays in Zebra’s R&D strategy. Spoiler alert…he shares some big news!

Of course, I had to dig a little deeper to find out what else Zebra is doing to help improve patient experiences and outcomes:

Though Tony and Mike (understandably) can’t reveal everything we’re working on right now behind the scenes to drive healthcare improvements, I can confirm that they will help patients feel more comfortable at the point of care and help clinicians feel more confident in the level of care they are providing patients. 

We know the burden is on us as technologists, solutions engineers, IT leaders, clinical innovators, and healthcare visionaries to unburden the delivery of patient care, and we take our responsibility to the healthcare community seriously. That’s why we have a customer advisory board, spend every day in hospitals and clinics meeting with technology users, and always solicit feedback about what’s working well and what’s not from a clinical workflow perspective. We know we have the means (via our expertise and technology) to help change healthcare processes and, therefore, improve experiences and outcomes. 

So, we will continue to take small steps and make big investments that help the healthcare community better serve local communities worldwide. And as we advance on our journey, we’re looking forward to making some pitstops at U.S. hospitals so Zippy can say hello to some very special young patients (and some very special clinicians).


*Editor’s Note:

To learn more about Zebra's full line of Positive Patient Identification (PPID) Solutions, our website is a great place to start. 

We'd love to hear from you about how Zebra technologies has changed the patient experience.  And of course, if you have ideas about how Zebra can improve clinician and patient outcomes, please let us know


Did You Know?

  • 14 of the top 20 hospitals on the U.S. News 2022-2023 Best Hospitals Honor Roll use Zebra wristbands

  • Since 1988, over 3 billion patients globally have been identified by Zebra wristbands.


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Healthcare, Inside Zebra Nation,
Shannon Swanson
Shannon Swanson

Shannon Swanson is Manager, Product Management, Healthcare Supplies Portfolio at Zebra Technologies.

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