pharmacy TECHNOLOGY news

Published Online: Sunday, July 1, 2007
 

CVS Rx Labels Get Makeover

In an effort to address patients' concerns, particularly those of seniors, CVS/pharmacy has launched new blue Easy-Read prescription labels. The label improvements include:

  • Larger typeface - the retail pharmacy increased the type size and "bolded" key information on the label for a cleaner look

  • Blue highlighting - research conducted by CVS/pharmacy through focus groups concluded that blue highlighting is easier on the eyes, compared with yellow highlighting, which was previously used on Rx labels. Blue highlighted information includes the name of the prescription, the prescription number, and the CVS/pharmacy store phone number.

  • Medication description - the pharmacy added a description of the pill on the Rx label to help patients identify their medications

  • Refill information placement - refill data, including prescription number, remaining refills, and store number are strategically grouped together on the label

Drug Errors and Patient Safety Focus of IT Strategies

Information technology (IT) professionals identified their current priorities as well as the top priorities for the next 2 years in the 18th Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Leadership Survey. The organization's top IT priorities include:

  • Implementing technology to reduce drug errors and promote patient safety

  • Quality of care and patient satisfaction, the top business issues

  • Future health care applications; 9 of the 10 health care applications identified as vital for the future were clinical systems

  • Bar-code technology, high-speed networks, and Intranets; these were the top technologies that survey respondents plan to implement in the next 2 years

The survey data were culled from December 20, 2006, to March 1, 2007, with 360 respondents representing 306 unique health care organizations and nearly 700 hospitals throughout the country.

RFID Versus Bar Codes:The Winner Is...

As government mandates for drug monitoring in the supply chain come down the pike, the pharmaceutical industry is debating which technology to implement - radio frequency identification (RFID) or 2-D bar codes.

California and Florida will soon require the industry to trace the location of drugs from manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to thwart counterfeiting and theft and improve drug safety. Other states are expected to pass similar laws. Some experts believe that, because RFID has the ability to read information from a distance using an ultrahigh frequency radio wave, it is the better technology.

Bar codes require close proximity to a scanner. RFID tags also can store more unique information about a product, while traditional bar codes identify only the type of product. Yet, more advanced 2-D bar codes can contain unique identifying data about an item.

It appears that the industry is favoring RFID at the case level, because it means less manual labor and a quicker distribution process, compared with bar-code reading. Less unclear is if, and when, RFID will be appropriate for individual pill bottles, because of the cost of the RFID tags. Because the manufacturers will be taking either 1 of 2 approaches for item-level tagging, it will result in some complexity in the supply chain, commented Shay Reid, vice president of integrated solutions at AmerisourceBergen, during a recent presentation at RFID World in Dallas, Tex. "It's probably going to begin with a barrage of technologies at item level," he said. "We at the wholesaler level are trying to understand how to accommodate these technologies manufacturers will use."

Congress Receives Report on E-prescribing Pilots

A new report released to Congress found that 3 electronic prescribing (eprescribing) standards tested in an eprescribing pilot project can support Medicare Part D transactions. The report was conducted through an interagency agreement between the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The initial e-prescribing standards deemed "technically able to convey the information needed to support this function for use in Part D" involve formulary and benefit information, exchange of medication history, and fillstatus notification. The report also identified standards that were "technically unable" to support transactions in Part D, including dealing with structured code sets for communicating patient instructions, a terminology to describe clinical drugs, and messages expressing prior-authorization information.

The findings were based on 5 pilot sites in 8 states that tested the initial eprescribing standards to determine if they were ready for widespread adoption. The pilot sites were Achieve Healthcare Information Technologies (Eden Prairie, Minn), Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston, Mass), RAND Corp (Santa Monica, Calif), SureScripts LLC (Alexandria, Va), and University Hospitals Health System (Cleveland, Ohio).



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