Scanners are an essential piece of equipment in many healthcare settings. They help to make processes such as patient identification and admission more streamlined and effective. Whilst there are several medical scanners on the market, they’re usually divided into two categories: wired and wireless.

There are several benefits to both types of healthcare scanners and which is suited best to your medical facility really depends on what they’ll be used for, budget and flexibility.

In this article, we’re going to give you an overview of both wireless and wired scanners so that you can make an informed decision about which type of scanner is the correct choice for your medical institution.

What is a Wired Scanner?

Both wired and wireless scanners are hand-held devices used to read barcodes. In a medical setting, they can be used for patient identification, medication management, specimen collection, surgical instrument identification and much more.

A wired scanner, as the name suggests, is connected to a host device (such as a computer) via a cable, usually a USB connection. When not in use, scanners are put in a holder for organisation.

healthcare scanners

What is a Wireless Scanner?

Wireless scanners are also handheld barcode scanners, but they are not physically connected to a host device. They have no cable but rather use wireless communication technologies, such as Bluetooth, to transfer scanned data to a receiving device (a computer).

wireless scanner

Wireless vs. Wired Scanners

There are several factors to take into account when choosing a medical scanner. Everything from cost to reliability can play a role.

Connection Reliability

Because wired scanners are connected to a computer via a cable, they’re generally more reliable than wireless scanners. There’s no need to pair up the devices or deal with the inevitable interference problems that come with WIFI or Bluetooth connections.

Mobility and Flexibility

There’s no denying that there’s more flexibility with a wireless healthcare scanner. Workers can simply carry the scanner with them with no need for a power outlet or the chance of getting cables tangled up. Whilst this is great for workers who move a lot, such as nurses, it’s not always a requirement. For example, at receptions or patient admission stations, it may be more useful to have a corded and slightly more reliable scanner as there’s not much need for movement.

In-Built Memory

Because they’re connected directly to a host device, wired scanners normally don’t have an in-built memory feature. Many wireless scanners, however, do. They’re able to store data when the connection is temporarily down (for example when there’s no wifi) and then sync once the connection is established again. In some instances, this can really help with workflow and data management.

Set-Up and Integration

Most wired medical scanners are easy to connect and use. There’s very little set-up required. Wireless scanners, however, often need additional configuration to connect with the given device. Once set up, though, wireless scanners can be configured to multiple devices and systems.

Hygiene and Cleaning

All the medical scanners on offer at Debetrek are made from materials that can withstand thorough hospital cleaning. Many establishments, however, see wireless scanners as a good way to minimise the risk of cross-contamination. There’s no need to clean the cable which can easily become contaminated when around patients and workers.

Maintenance and Durability

Wired scanners are usually more durable than wireless ones, increasing their reliability. They require very little maintenance, ensuring there’s minimal disturbance to healthcare workers. They’re designed to withstand fast-paced environments. Wireless scanners, however, may need a little more in the way of maintenance.


Wired healthcare scanners are ideal for carrying out localised tasks that are more static. Wireless scanners, however, are much more adaptable and can be used in a wider range of situations. As workstations change and develop or scanners are used for new purposes, a wireless scanner can easily accommodate change.


Wired healthcare scanners are usually the more cost-effective choice. They have a simpler design and don’t need to be combined with other technology in order to work. Wireless scanners tend to be more expensive because of the wireless technology features. But, in some instances, this initial investment can be really worth it due to the increase in flexibility and productivity.

medical scanners

Which Medical Scanner Is Best for You?

There are positives to both wireless and wired medical scanners. Which would work best in your medical facility really comes down to whether you need your scanner to have more flexibility or not. If you intend to use healthcare scanners in a fixed position, such as a reception, a wired scanner is probably more reliable. However, if you need healthcare staff to have the flexibility to move with a scanner, wireless is definitely the better option.

Contact the team at Debetrek to discuss which medical scanner would work best in your facility. We’d be happy to use our experience to advise you on the best option for your facility!