[Update 12/22/2013: I received an email from one of the inventors/developers of Drugcam software informing me of a new website that contains more information about the system. The site isÂ eurekam.fr, which contains pages describing both Drugcam Assist and Drugcam Control. It’s still not a great amount of information, but at least it’s more than I had.]
I’ve talked about technology for the i.v. room extensively on this weblog. It’s no secret that I think the i.v. room is the next frontier for pharmacy technology. The reason I think this is simple, the i.v. room is dangerous, and precious few healthcare systems are using technology to its fullest in that environment.
I’m not the only one that thinks the i.v. room is important. As of December of 2012Â I knew of basically four i.v. room workflow management systems: DoseEdgÂ DoseEdgeÂ by Baxa,Â Pharm-Q In The HoodÂ by Envision Telepharmacy,Â SP Central Telepharmacy SystemÂ by ScriptPro, andÂ Phocus RxÂ by Grifols.
Joining the fray are at least two more systems that I saw at the ASHP Summer Meeting just last week: Cato software, which is now owned by DB, and Drugcam Assist by Getinge.Â Unfortunately you won’t find much about Drugcam Assist online, which is really too bad because it’s an amazing system. The website offers more information and a video demonstration for those that are willing to fill out a form and register. I was not willing.
Drugcam operates under the same premise as the i.v. room workflow management systems named above, which is to say that it walks the user through specific steps to compound an i.v. product while keeping a record of the process for a pharmacist to review via teleprescence. But that’s where the similarities end. So what’s so special about Drugcam? Let me tell you.
- Drugcam uses two cameras to automatically detect the items being used in the compounding process. That’s right, no barcode scanning necessary. As the user passes the vial in front of the camera it is automatically identified. The user is clearly notified if the incorrect item is pulled into the camera’s viewing area.
- Drugcam uses the same cameras and technology to automatically detect the volume of fluid pulled into syringes. Yep, the user pulls solution into the syringe, places it in the camera’s viewing area and waits for it to tell you whether or not you did a good job. It really was quite impressive. During the demonstration the technician making the i.v. was instructed to pull up 25mL of a drug (can’t recall which one). On the first try the technician pulled up 24mL. When the syringe was passed in front of the camera it alerted the technician that the syringe contained only 24mL and informed them to try again. The second pull resulted in the correct volume.
- Drugcam uses the same method in #2 above to determine the entire contents of the syringe has been placed in the bag. Simply put, Drugcam can identify whether or not the syringe is empty.
- Drugcam not only takes photos of each step – automatically I may add – but it takes a video of the entire process. Upon completion the pharmacist can review photos of key steps in the process or review the video at any point in the process should the need arise.
I found the system to be quite impressive. The software was intuitive and the functionality is off the charts. The most amazing thing to me is that this is the first iteration for commercial sale in the U.S. I can’t wait to see what iteration 2, 3, 4, etc bring.
There are two negatives for Drugcam. First, the system is currently unavailable in the U.S. but the representatives at the show told me that the product will be available for purchase in the U.S. in October of this year. And second, the system is only available in the Getinge isolation boxes. I asked the people in the booth if they had plans for a standalone solution. They hesitated, but ultimately said “not at this time”. In my mind that means they’re working on it.
Drugcam incorporates technology that I was told at one point or another over the past couple of years couldn’t be done, or was simply “too difficult” (Note to self: stop listening to people). I’m specifically talking about the automatic product identification as well as the automatic detection of syringe volume. Well guess what, it appears these guys have done it. They deserve recognition for a job well done. Whether or not the product will be well received or simply fade into oblivion remains to be seen.