IV room technology …just sayin’

From a recent article in August 2012 issue of Pharmacy Practice News:

Within the first month of implementation [of a bar-code medication preparation (BCMP) system], 85% of all IV drugs in the children’s hospital IV room were covered by the BCMP system, which does the following: “prints” labels to a touchscreen computer from which a technician can pick which dose he or she wants to prepare; verifies via bar-code technology that the correct medication and diluent were chosen, provides instructions to technicians about how make the preparation, allows technicians to take pictures of the preparation process and automatically time stamps each step in that process for future record keeping and management reporting.

The unique bar code that is assigned to each product then can be used to track the medication to the nursing unit, or whatever end location has been provided, with a location bar code.

Since the implementation of the BCMP IV system, which both Drs. Fortier and Maughan describe as a “best practice for the near future,” MUSC staff have seen “eight to 10 medications a day that could have been an error [with] the old system,” according to Dr. Maughan. “That represents 1.3% to 3% of the total number of doses dispensed.”

It’s no secret that I think the IV room is an area that pharmacy has yet to address properly when it comes to automation and technology. We simple haven’t developed a product that will change the way pharmacy compounds IV’s. I have some thoughts on that, but will keep them offline for now. If you’re interested in talking about the future of IV room practice feel free to drop me a line. Sorry, I digress.

DoseEdge has slowly become the product everyone talks about when they want to do something in the IV room. And rightly so as no one else has built anything better. I’ve mentioned DoseEdge previously here. Other players include Health Robotics with I.V. Soft and Grifols with Phocus Rx. I’ve heard that I.V. Soft is quite good, but I’ve never seen it in action.

Last week I had the privilege of visiting Grifols in Pasadena, CA for an up close and personal look at their Phocus Rx product. I wrote briefly about Phocus Rx earlier this year, but failed to do it justice. It’s difficult for me to go into detail as I’m not sure how much of my new found knowledge is available to the public. Grifols hasn’t put out a lot of information on Phocus Rx, which is a real shame. The product is one of the most well-conceived, well thought out, well-engineered, and quite frankly one of the the best new pharmacy technology products I’ve seen in a while. If it works as advertised, and I believe it will, then it’s a game changer. Is it better than DoseEdge? “Better” is a subjective thing, but in my opinion it is.

Phocus Rx uses at least two concepts that I’ve been noodling on for a couple of years now. I had no idea anyone was working on such things, but then again how could I. After all that kind of stuff is kept pretty close to the vest. While it was discouraging to see that someone had already done things I wanted to do, it was encouraging to see someone in the pharmacy space doing something truly innovative. It gives me hope. It lets me know that things I’ve been told “can’t be done” can in fact be done, and done well. Unless something goes drastically wrong for Grifols I expect to see a lot more pharmacy automation and technology from them in the future. They have a great vision for the future and expertise in the IV room space that can only be matched by Baxter.

Congratulations to Grifols and their Phocus Rx team.

I will keep you posted as I learn more. The company has graciously granted me permission to visit one of their beta sites. I’m really quite excited to see the product in action. Unfortunately scheduling conflicts won’t permit the visit until late September, possibly October. They’re killing me!

Images below available at Flickr. Unfortunately you can’t see much, which in and of itself should make you think.

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