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QR codes, which had begun a fall into obscurity, have come roaring back. Many restaurants sport these matrix barcodes on tables as replacements for menus. One even appeared in an ad for cryptocurrency during this year’s Super Bowl. Pharmaceutical and consumer health care brands should employ them to reduce their environmental impact and create positive patient experiences.

First used in 1994 to track vehicle manufacturing, QR codes — the QR stands for quick response — had a variety of uses. Most took the user to a website displaying information. These images initially required a special reader or app, but their integration into smartphone cameras, along with the Covid-19 pandemic, helped propel them into more mainstream use. In 2021, 90% of consumers reported having scanned a QR code within the last month.

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