The challenge

  • Increase efficiency and accuracy of sample and document labelling
  • Support the hospital’s transition from paper-based to digital record-keeping

The solution

  • Seamless integration with the Trust’s Cerner Millennium® patient record system

The results

  • A more efficient and robust sample labelling system with enhanced traceability
  • Saved staff time, freeing up more capacity to focus on critical patient-facing tasks

“Digitally labelling samples and documents delivers efficiencies, reduces errors and ultimately contributes towards improvements in patient safety.”

Barry Jackson, IT Project Manager at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


Transitioning to digital systems and away from paper records is a service-wide objective for the NHS, but achieving it means having well designed and integrated hardware on the ground to ensure systems are user-friendly, robust and efficient.

That was the challenge for Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest NHS trusts in the UK. It operates from two major hospitals, Freeman Hospital and the Royal Victoria Infirmary, and a number of other sites, providing healthcare to communities across the North East of England and beyond.

Supporting digitisation

The Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust was implementing a new patient record system that would allow records to be shared digitally between departments rather than relying on paper documents.

One area where this upgrade would deliver major benefits was in the way outpatient samples are prepared for labs for analysis. Previously, all outpatient samples needed to be entered onto the lab systems and physically re-labelled when they arrive.

The integrated digital system removed this need. However, to do this, the Trust needed a fleet of label printers for its outpatient departments and theatres that could be seamlessly integrated with its digital records system – Cerner Millennium®. They also needed to be robust, compact and user-friendly enough to be used by busy clinicians across the hospital.

To support further digitisation, the Trust developed a document scanning solution to rapidly scan paper documentation into the digital patient record. Labels would now be printed with QR codes that the scanners use to digitally file the paper records in the correct location.

The right prescription

After investigating all of the options available, the hospital’s IT team opted for the Brother TD-2120N label printer, a compact unit that delivers impressive print speeds and which is designed to be robust enough to survive the rigours of the busiest working environments.

The units are designed to work seamlessly with a wide range of digital documentation systems, including those developed by Cerner. The Trust invested in a fleet of more than 550 units.

Front view of Brother TD-2120N industrial label printer on white surface and background

The TD-2120N label printer

  • Compact 2" machine with the speed, features and capacity of a desktop printer
  • Prints professional quality custom labels or receipts at 203dpi
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Optional accessories include touch panel display and rechargeable battery
  • Print speed of up to six inches per second

View the TD-2120N desktop label printer

A male healthcare professional in a laboratory applying a barcode label to a test tube containing a blood sample, labelled 'Specimen'

“Upgrading to a single labelling process has removed a time-consuming process for our lab technicians.”

Portable, robust and easy-to-use

Many of the printers used on hospital wards are mounted on mobile Clinical Working Stations, which can be wheeled into different locations to increase flexibility of deployment and reduce the distance clinicians need to walk around clinics, theatres, and other spaces to produce labels.

“We are on a journey as a trust to go from paper-based systems to PaperLite ways of working that are more efficient and robust, and these label printers are a significant enabler in helping us achieve that goal.

“While our previous approach, re-labelling samples that arrived in the lab, worked effectively for many years, it was inefficient for our people and less reliable than a joined-up digital system.

“Upgrading to a single labelling process has removed a time-consuming process for our lab technicians and given us more advanced and efficient traceability functions. These save time and further reduce the possibility of errors.” says Barry Jackson, IT Project Manager.

Find out more about Brother’s solutions for healthcare.

Download your copy of The Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust case study

What was achieved?

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Seamless integration

Brother's solution seamlessly integrates with the Trust’s Cerner Millennium® patient record system

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Improved accuracy

Labelling of samples and paper patient records is more efficient and robust, reducing the possibility of errors

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Increased efficiency

A single labelling process has removed a time-consuming process for lab technicians

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