Saturday morning coffee [August 23 2014]

“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” -John Wooden”

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [August 23 2014]

Cool Pharmacy Technology – TelePharm

Telepresence has seen its ups and downs over the years. The technology is certainly nothing new, but it has been underutilized in both the inpatient and outpatient healthcare space. This is especially true when it comes to pharmacy, which is odd because one would think that telepresence technology could be used to give pharmacists the freedom they crave.

TelePharm is a telepresence system aimed at the ambulatory pharmacy space. It’s difficult to elicit much detail from the website, but ultimately the system appears to use cameras and a web-based application to remotely monitor technicians, and provide patient consultations via video conference.

“Pharmacists are provided captured images of all work products (hardcopy prescriptions, labeled containers, medications (tablets/capsules), stock bottle containers, and stock bottle. They compare all this information to the system information and stock images provided to verify the prescription has been filled properly.”

It appears that patient consultations can take place on any web-enabled device. “A pharmacist needs an audio/video enabled device with internet to access the TelePharm application. Patients need to have an internet and audio/video connection through a tablet, mobile phone, or home PC.”

The TelePharm service reminds me of what Envision Telepharmacy does with acute care pharmacies and infusion centers.

Anyone out there used TelePharm or seen it in person? If so feel free to leave a comment below.

Pharmacist remote order verification, i.e. checking something from afar

The current pharmacy practice model utilizes pharmacists to check everything that leaves the pharmacy. Right or wrong that’s the way it is. I don’t think it’s necessary, but I’m not the guy in charge of such things.

Pharmacy has tools to help get pharmacists out of the physical pharmacy, namely tech-check-tech and remote order verification, but I don’t see such things used with consistency. My position on tech-check-tech is well documented; it’s underutilized. Using technicians “at the top of their license” would go a long way in freeing up pharmacists to do other things. The problem at the moment is that many pharmacists don’t want to relinquish the “final check” responsibilities. It’s silly, but true.
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Saturday morning coffee [December 8 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right comes from Jason DeVillains, better known to many as The Cynical Pharmacist. Jason and I met via Twitter (@TheCynicalRPH) and have been chitchatting via the web ever since. I mentioned that I was running low on coffee mugs and he decided to help me remedy the problem by sending me four of them. When my daughter and I opened the box this particular mug made her laugh, so I felt that it only fitting that it be the first one to make an appearance online. Jason also has a blog aptly called The Cynical Pharmacist, where he talks about all kinds of stuff; some healthcare related, some not. He has an interesting blogging style where he makes good use of video clips. Check it out.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2 was #1 at the box office last weekend pulling in just about $17.5 Million. Skyfall was a close second with $16.5 Million. That says something about the quality of Skyfall as it continues to draw big crowds even after being out for four weeks.
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [December 8 2012]

4 technologies every hospital pharmacy should be using right now

There are lots of useful technologies out there for pharmacies, but I see precious few being put to good use. Why? Oh, who the heck knows. It’s a mystery to me. People whine all the time about how bad pharmacy operations are, but they never do anything to fix it. Human nature I suppose. If I were a DOP or CPO I’d be using anything and everything I could get my hands on to improve operations and make life easier for my pharmacists, and in turn easier for “pharmacy” and nursing, which in theory leads to better patient care. It’s the great circle of life. Sort of.

Here are four things I think every hospital pharmacy should be using, in no particular order:
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Why don’t we hear more about telepharmacy?

With the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets these days it seems that pharmacy would finally come out of the dark ages and start using these tools to their benefit. I recently read an article at MEDCITY | News  that talked about the use of tablet technology for “telerounds”.

Telerounds: The sexy idea is about providing a way for patients in a hospital setting to communicate with their physicians even when they are not at the hospital. An early version of the concept in 2005 took the form of physician robots on account of the tablet screens being attached to “robots” that move from patient to patient. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers in 2005 met with positive feedback from patients and the Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan has been testing the concept with patients using iPads equipped with a Apple’s Face Time program, similar to Skype, in post surgery settings. On industry expert rattled off several reasons why it just isn’t practical right now. First, it would assume that surgeons are always available when the patient needs to speak to them. Current reimbursement models don’t support it. Most hospitals don’t grow iPads on trees for patients to use upon admission. It wouldn’t work with physicians since they could not be reimbursed. Still, it might work better when patients are discharged as a solution for providers trying to reduce readmission rates.

Continue reading Why don’t we hear more about telepharmacy?

Cool Pharmacy Tech – Phocus Rx

Ever heard of Phocus Rx? Neither had I until a couple of days ago when my boss sent me a link to this story about Children’s Hospital Los Angeles receiving Phocus Rx as a charitable donation.

Phocus Rx is camera system used in pharmacy clean rooms to document and validate the IV compounding process. It consists of two compact 5 megapixel cameras mounted outside the hood in the clean room ceiling or on articulated arm and workflow management software. That’s quite a departure from the other systems I’ve seen where the camera sits in the hood. In addition Phocus Rx includes the obligatory image capture that allows pharmacists to remotely review the compounding process. Pretty cool stuff.

By my count we now have four of these systems on the market, including PHOCUS Rx. Getting pretty crowded in there. Although I have to say that DoseEdge is far and away the most talked about of the IV workflow management systems on the market today. I’d love to play with them side by side to compare features and functionality.

The other systems that I’m aware of include:

From the PHOCUS Rx website:

PHOCUS Rx is a powerful camera verification system combining hardware and software. It enables pharmacists and technicians to remotely document and validate the preparation of IV drugs. Two ultra compact 5 megapixel cameras are located outside the hood in the clean room ceiling or on articulated arm. Bi-directional communication software enables pharmacists to review high resolution images and validate or send a warning message.


  • scalable and modular system
  • non invasive – no wires or devices in hood
  • server located outside compounding area
  • validate and store images
  • barcode recognition
  • based on client/server structure
  • simple workflow screens
  • historical and activity reports

VGo telepresence robot has Verizon LTE

Engadget: “the VGo ‘bot — a chest-high roving device that has a display and camera built-in and allows patients and others to interact with a remote operator — is at CES this year to show off its inclusion of Verizon LTE, instead of the WiFi-only model we’ve seen in times past.” – So? So this means you’re no longer confined to locations with Wi-Fi. It means you can have telepresence (telemedicine, telepharmacy) anywhere. Need a specialist’s opinion in the middle of nowhere? Ok, just fire up the VGo robot with Verizon LTE.

For those of you that haven’t experience “4G” you’re missing out. It’s quite snappy. I frequently use my Galaxy Nexus to watch movies on Netflix while waiting for my daughter at Volleyball practice. No lag. No buffering. Just a smooth movie watching experience.