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The Evolution of Patient Identification: Part IV

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Barcode Patient ID Wristbands: Comparing Laser and Direct Thermal Technology


With hospitals admitting a greater number of patients each year as well as being expected to do more with less, proven technology and automated processes are more critical than ever. This healthcare trend has led to barcode technology being the preferred patient identification system that works across all hospital information systems and environments.

From Part III of this patient ID evolution series, we found that the most popular options for patient ID wristbands are Barcode Laser Wristbands and Barcode Direct Thermal Wristbands. In this blog post, we provide a comparison of these two different technologies as it relates to printer systems and performance, patient wristband application, environmental impact and cost.


Comparing Laser and Thermal Printing


  • Large printer requires more workstation space

  • Prints wristbands and labels on one sheet, and dedicated to other hospital documents

  • Compact printers to fit any size workstation

  • Dedicated to wristbands or labels with ability to print on-demand at point-of-care

  • Complex media path due to multi-purpose use can lead to more printer jams

  • Printer usually requires warm up time before printing first laser sheet of wristbands and labels

  • Proven technology with simple media path that minimizes printer jams

  • No printer warm-up period required

  • Requires printing of wristband and labels on the same sheet; any unused labels are wasted

  • Requires toner cartridges to be replaced and may need special disposal

  • Printing on-demand reduces waste

  • No toner cartridges required

  • Energy efficient (up to three times less energy than laser printer)

  • Medirex SuperSoft Laser Printed wristbands are comparable to Medirex ThermaSoft Direct Thermal wristbands

  • Laminated Laser Printed wristbands require additional assembly for laminated shield

  • Laminated shield causes less flexibility and comfort

  • Medirex SuperSoft Laser Printed wristbands are comparable to Medirex ThermaSoft Direct Thermal wristbands

  • $0.34 per band $3,000.00 per printer

  • More maintenance costs for printer toner

  • $0.26 per band $500.00 per printer

  • Less maintenance costs since printer does not require toner or ribbon


About Medirex Systems Inc. Medirex Systems Inc. (Medirex) is a Canadian-owned and operated business connecting patients to health information systems. Being an industry leader for over 50 years, Medirex has evolved to bridge the gap between patient identification and engagement by cultivating patient connections with ease, security, and no errors. Providing a positive patient identification experience for over 10 million Canadians, Medirex adopts technologies ensuring that the patient has a voice in their healthcare journey. Medirex aids in the adoption of digital health resources and data to improve the patient experience for your healthcare organization. Media Contact: Medirex Communications Medirex Systems Inc. +1-416-363-9313

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