Healthcare vs. consumer tech, who’s more advanced?

I spend a lot of time on the internet, probably too much time.  My recent readings resulted in a raised eyebrow when I spotted two articles in particular; one for a new touch-screen anesthesia system from McKesson and the other for a touch-screen coca-cola fountain drink dispenser.

In the healthcare corner I give you the McKesson Anesthesia-Rx system. The Anesthesia-Rx system is an advanced anesthesia cart with a medication-dispensing process designed around a touch-screen interface. The product features virtual pocket technology that gives the user a visual map of the contents of each drawer, providing quick access to medications. In addition the system tracks patient charges and provides the pharmacy with a perpetual inventory. To make things even easier, McKesson has included a syringe label printer that automates the printing of critical medication information for regulatory compliance and improved safety. Unlabeled syringes are a significant risk in the OR, so this is a nice safety feature.

In the consumer corner I give you the Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain. The Freestyle fountain utilizes highly concentrated flavor cartridges like Fatanta Peach and orange lemonade to create approximately 100 flavors at the touch of a button. The user interface was designed by BSquare and is built around the Windows CE system. The machine is very complex and its  “PurePour” technology was originally developed to measure extremely precise amounts of dialysis and cancer drugs. Consumers or restaurant users operate the machine by pushing one of the 100 beverage choice buttons on the touch-screen. In addition, RFID scanners are used to match cartridges to dispensers, and the onboard computer confirms everything is in place. Data about beverage consumption, peak times, and popular locations is sent back to Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta. Coke can also talk back to the machine, letting it know if a particular flavor needs to be discontinued or recalled, which causes the Freestyle to stop serving the drink immediately.  These machines are currently being tested in Georgia, California, and Utah. Coca-Cola has said it plans to place 60 test dispensers around the country by the end of the summer.

So, which one of these new products is more advanced? I’m going to have to say the Coca-Cola Freestyle is. It offers real time data, RFID technology, and the ability to stop dispensing recalled items immediately.  The trick now is figuring out how to get one for the pharmacy.

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