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Published Online: Saturday, August 15, 2009   [ Request Print ]

What It Lacks in Bedside Manner, Dispensing Robot Makes Up in Efficiency

Hospital pharmacists may be able to look forward to help from a nonhuman assistant that will save them precious time. Panasonic has developed a drug-dispensing robot that also will sort drugs and store medical data, the electronics company announced early last month.

Slated for marketing to Japanese hospitals next March, the robot will make it to the United States and Europe sometime later. Although an exact price has yet to be released, a company spokesperson reportedly estimated the cost of the robot at several hundreds of thousands of dollars. It represents the company’s first foray into the world of robotics.

Not your typical robot, the device is designed like a cabinet with a multitude of small drawers labeled with patient names for medication storage. Pharmacists will place drugs into the robot to be sorted and dispensed.

Virtual Pharmacy Brings “New Day” to Long-Term Care Facilities

The future looks bright for New Day Pharmacy, which, thanks to a $10.2- million infusion of capital, has the ability to bring its virtual in-house pharmacy services to long-term care facilities throughout the country. An institutional pharmacy company based in Nashville, Tennessee, New Day offers green, efficient technologies that are designed to lower costs, reduce medication errors and waste, and provide improved patient care and safety.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Council Ventures on a groundbreaking project that vastly improves the way long-term care patients receive their medications,” said New Day President Dick Wager, who founded the company in 2004.

Features of the company’s offerings include PharmCom, which serves as a virtual window into the data and resources of New Day’s 24-hour pharmacy, a time-sequenced packaging system, and on-site automated dispensing units.

Before the investment, led by Council Ventures, New Day was providing its virtual in-house pharmacy services to longterm care facilities in 4 states—Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee. For more information on New Day Pharmacy, visit www.newdaypharmacy.com.

iPhones, iPods Required for Rx Students

Pharmacy students pursuing a doctorate degree at the University of Florida now have a valid reason to splurge on Apple’s wildly popular iPhone and iPod Touch. The University of Florida College of Pharmacy is now requiring incoming PharmD students to come equipped with one of the 2 gadgets starting this fall semester.

“These are the instruments at the forefront that are developing applications for medical uses by the hundreds. We want our students to become adept at using these mobile devices early on, because we see this as the future in pharmacy practice,” said College of Pharmacy Dean William Riffee in the campus newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator.

Although the move represents yet another cost for students to bear, it does make sense. The recently released Epocrates Rx for iPhone and iPod Touch provides a wealth of medical and drug information at the fingertips of pharmacists and pharmacy students alike. A number of other medical applications add to the value of such a requirement. Quite possibly the beginning of a trend, the mandated technology proves itself to be useful for any student, with a multitude of organizational tools to help juggle one’s studies.

Partnership to Keep Disasters from Turning More So

With pharmacy services playing such a major part in keeping emergency situations under control, a partnership between Emdeon and the Rx Response Pharmacy Status Reporting Tool is a safe bet in more ways than one. The companies announced their alliance early last month, the goal of which is to provide quick and crucial pharmacy services to those affected by public health emergencies and disasters.

Rx Response, developed in 2007 with the purpose of getting necessary medications to patients during emergency situations, will benefit from Emdeon’s network of payers, providers, and pharmacies—the largest in the United States. Through the partnership with the revenue and payment cycle solutions leader, the Pharmacy Status Reporting Tool will have access to an accurate list of operating pharmacies available during crises.

Employed by state and federal emer gency management officials, Rx Response’s Pharmacy Status Reporting Tool reacts to a federal disaster declaration by displaying a list of operational pharmacies, along with their contact information, on an interactive map. Locations are also provided to patients on the www.RxResponse.org Web site.

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