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Systems are redefining dispensing and patient care

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NEW YORK — Over the past decade, the pharmacy industry has continued its movement toward full automation of pharmacy systems. Pharmacy automation systems are redefining both dispensing and patient care management by improving speed, increasing efficiency, and reducing costs and errors.

The Innovation Hub at iA headquarters brings ‘solutions to life.’

“Leveraging advanced robotics and leading-edge software, pharmacies have a variety of customizable solutions available to them to help automate the prescription fulfillment process,” said Tom Utech, chief executive officer of iA. “iA offers products and solutions that can work for different types and sizes of pharmacies, including commercial retail pharmacies, health care systems and government entities. There are products that can assist with sorting, counting and other repetitive tasks, as well as custom solutions that automate the entire prescription fulfillment process. Within the pharmacy automation space, organizations are looking for solutions that are both modular and scalable, with the ability to expand as their business grows,” he explained.

Utech said that automation has helped adherence levels at retail. “Using centralized pharmacy fulfillment can help improve patient adherence in several ways. If pharmacists didn’t have the tedious responsibilities of counting pills and filling prescriptions, they could have more time to provide counseling and education to patients. They could have more time to thoroughly prepare for a patient’s medication therapy management appointment. Ideally, this increased interaction would give patients a better understanding of their medication regimen, which should help educate patients on the importance of adherence,” he noted.

“Centralized fulfillment could also help pharmacies to meet their prescription promise times. Prescriptions filled at a centralized location are automated and may be less affected by staffing issues caused by daily work that come up within the retail pharmacy. If patients’ prescriptions aren’t ready on time, some patients may be unwilling or unable to wait on them, which could result in them not getting their medication in a timely manner,” he added.

Utech pointed out that iA offers pharmacy fulfillment solutions, featuring advanced robotics and the NEXiA Enterprise Software Suite, designed to improve workflows and increase efficiencies.

New customer
innovation space

He added that iA recently unveiled a new customer innovation space at its newly renovated national headquarters in Binghamton, N.Y., the first of its kind in the industry At the heart of the renovation is a customer innovation and collaboration space, where iA can demonstrate its advanced robotics and enterprise software offerings to customers, which include major pharmacy retailers, online pharmacies, health care systems and government health care ­organizations.

“Our Innovation Hub will be the driving force behind our continued growth and success,” said Utech. “This real-life showcase can be used for training, demonstrations, and testing, and will bring our solutions to life for our customers and others to experience firsthand.”

Utech reiterated that automation technology continues to free up the pharmacist to offer patients more care.“When a pharmacy uses a centralized pharmacy fulfillment solution, the pharmacists don’t have to spend as much time performing repetitive tasks like sorting medications, counting pills and packaging prescriptions. In addition to easing the workload for the pharmacist, this also frees up their time to be able to provide more direct patient care, including vaccinations, consultations, medication therapy management appointments and more,” Utech ­concluded.

Meeting compliance issues

“With the end of the stabilization period for the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) just a short few months away, it’s no surprise that the leading trend in technology adoption across retail pharmacy is the acquisition of solutions that will enable dispenser compliance with the act. While compliance is a central consideration, patient safety, inventory optimization and pharmacy efficiency are key drivers behind this technology adoption,” added Lari Harding, senior vice president of health care marketing and sales enablement at Inmar.

Lari Harding

She said that efficiency-focused pharmacy operators are turning toward DSCSA offerings — such as Inmar’s RxTransparent — that preclude manual data entry and enable pharmacy staff to use scanners to quickly and easily reconcile package-level (or tote label) data for products received with the data contained in the appropriate EPCIS transmission. “Connections to pharmacy management systems, inventory systems and long-term storage of the data are, of course, provided as part of the Inmar solution. These efficiencies enable pharmacists to spend more time with patients and on medication adherence.”

She added that while the data capture alone satisfies this particular DSCSA mandate, Inmar is empowering pharmacies to leverage the captured serialized data to facilitate and improve additional, critical workflows — including recall management and hazardous product ­handling.

“Inmar’s Pharmacy DSCSA Connector automatically feeds serialized data to our OneRecall solution, ensuring that pharmacies receive recall alerts only for products they have purchased. While 18 of the top 22 U.S. hospitals have already adopted One­Recall, we are now seeing a similar focus on improved recall management growing among pharmacies in the retail sector. At the same time, data captured by Inmar’s RxTransparent solution can be fed to our USP<800> solution, continuously monitoring the presence of hazardous pharmaceutical products and facilitating execution of appropriate management protocols,” she explained.

New pharmacy suite

MedAdvisor Solutions, the global leader of pharmacy-driven, patient engagement, just announced the launch of Omnichannel Engagement for Pharmacy, powered by the company’s AI-enabled platform, THRiVTM. The suite allows pharmacies to complement and build upon their digital patient engagement strategy and existing initiatives, including paperless options that patients increasingly want. This gives pharmacies the ability to deliver new programs that improve medication outcomes and customer loyalty.

The Omnichannel Engagement for Pharmacy suite of offerings enables personalized patient engagement to simplify the patient’s medication journey. It allows pharmacies to deliver medication information, reminders and alerts via a variety of communication channels, like SMS, Web and more. The suite will soon include interactive channels that allow patients to ask questions and receive answers to medication-related questions in real time. Powered by THRiV’s ML and AI capabilities, the Omnichannel Engagement strategy sequences messaging, enabling “smart messaging” to help ensure patients receive compelling content when it’s most convenient, in order to drive behavior and results while minimizing ­opt-outs.

A recent analysis of secure data on the company’s platform shows that patient engagement in medication management increases by up to seven-fold when omnichannel versus single channel communication strategies are applied to drive behavior change.

“Patients trust and want to hear from their pharmacists about everything from vaccines to wellness programs,” said Rick Ratliff, CEO of MedAdvisor Solutions. “Pharmacies are responding in kind by delivering a variety of digital resources. That said, scaling quickly while ensuring a seamless patient experience can be challenging. With access to two-thirds of the market we help pharmacies quickly extend their investment in digital patient engagement. I’m optimistic about how we are collaborating to put the patient strategically at the center of the medication management journey over the longer term.”


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