Year end thoughts 2012

fathertime_babynewyear2This is my final post of 2012. Random thoughts about things that I’ve seen, heard and/or read over the past twelve months.

Twenty-twelve was an interesting year for the Fahrni clan, and not in a good way. We lost one of our own and had some bad things happen. We also had some good times, but it won’t be a year that I’ll miss all that much.

We all survived the Mayan Apocalypse

We experienced the last repeating date of the century: 12-12-12
Continue reading Year end thoughts 2012

Cool Pharmacy Technology – Diana Hazardous Drug Compounding System

I came across the Diana Hazardous Drug Compounding System from icumedical while doing a little internet surfing the other day. As the name implies it’s a small, closed-looped system designed for compounding hazardous medications, i.e. chemotherapy.

The “Diana System” utilizes a dual channel system, one for small volume and another for larger volumes. It’s a little difficult to understand exactly what the device does without seeing it in action, which is what the video below is for. It’s a pretty cool concept. I like the fact that it’s compact and needleless, but there are a couple of things I’d like to see added to the device. It appears that there is a lot of manual programming with the “Diana System”. It would be nice if it was integrated with the pharmacy information system so that it could utilize barcode scanning to automate the programming, much like what we see on the newer generation of smart pumps that are hitting the market.

From the website:

Accurate, safe, and efficient hazardous drug compounding technology right at your fingertips.

  • User-controlled automated compounding for maximum accuracy & safety. Unlike automated technologies that require huge investments and do not fit within existing workflows, the Diana system cost-effectively keeps pharmacists and technicians in control of the compounding process from beginning to end.
  • Closed system assures safety of clinicians and the sterility of the mix.The Diana system fits under the hood of your biological safety cabinet and protects clinicians from exposure to hazardous drugs and accidental needlesticks while protecting the patient preparation from exposure to environmental contaminants.
  • Reduces risk of repetitive stress injuries. Free up pharmacists and technicians from many of the repetitive motions required during preparation and reconstitution and reduce the stresses and injuries that can occur as a result.
  • Increases efficiencies and reduces drug waste. By helping you improve the efficiency of high-volume compounding, the Diana system can deliver workflow efficiencies while helping you reduce drug waste by extracting every drop of drug from every container.

Initial impression: Samsung Chromebook

New ChromebookI am the proud owner of a brand new Samsung Chromebook that my wife so generously left for me under the Christmas tree. Clearly I’m a lucky man, for more than one reason.

There’s no shortage of Chromebook reviews on the internet, and you’re likely to get more out of them than you will by reading this, but I thought I’d put my initial thoughts on paper nonetheless.

The Samsung Chromebook is an attractive little machine. I didn’t know what to expect, but it surprisingly small and light. It has a nice 11.6-inch LED HD screen, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of drive storage. That’s not a lot of physical storage, but it has an SD card slot and comes with 100 GB of free Google Drive storage for 2 years. What’d you expect, it is a cloud based device after all.

My new Chromebook was stupid easy to setup. I simply turned it on and logged into my Google account. When I opened the browser – which is the entire computing experience in this case – all my familiar extensions, bookmarks, etc were all exactly where they should be an ready for use. I’ve been an avid Google user for quite some time so everything feels pretty natural. Browsing the internet, interacting with social media, and so on is exactly the same as it is on any other computer.

I’ve already had people ask me about using a “cloud-based computer” and what happens when you lose connectivity. Well, it’s a lot like using any other laptop when you don’t have WiFi connectivity. Google has done a good job of making certain functionality available when you’re offline. I’m able to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentation while offline. I’m also able to manage my email and calendar. As soon as I’m able to hop back online everything syncs up as it should. In addition there is a section of the Google Web Store that contains applications for use when offline.

Battery life is as advertised, i.e. it’s great. Not exactly scientific but I started using the Chromebook on and off around 11:00am on Christmas Eve morning, December 24 and didn’t need to recharge it until this morning about 9:00am. So I got a couple of good days use on a single charge. Not continuous use mind you, but my typical couch surfing, emailing, social media type sessions. In comparison my work laptop would require three charges over the same period of time with equivalent usage.

The keyboard is solid on the Chromebook. I’m composing this post on it and haven’t had any problems. Spacing is good and there’s no flex when I type. Overall, it’s a good experience. I will say that I find it odd that the keyboard is missing some keys that I use quite often: home, delete, page up and page down. That will take some time to get used to.

The only major complaint that I have is regarding the touchpad. I hate it. I prefer physical buttons on my touchpads. I like to rest the fingers on my left hand on the buttons and drive with my right. The Chromebook has a multi-touch touchpad, which means that it registers my hands as multi-touch. Go figure. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but so far I’ve found it quite irritating.

That’s it, my initial thoughts on the Chromebook. I’ll be using it as my daily driver while I’m on vacation so I should have more to report in another week.

IV room workflow management system comparison [table]

There are basically four IV room workflow management systems that I’m aware of: DoseEdge by Baxa, Pharm-Q In The Hood by Envision Telepharmacy, SP Central Telepharmacy System by ScriptPro and Phocus Rx by Grifols. Here’s a little table I’ve put together comparing them based on what I know.



Pharm-Q In The Hood

SP Central Telepharmacy

Phocus Rx System






Hardware Stationary camera stand, remote workstation Stationary camera mounted on i.v. bar in hood, remote workstation Stationary camera stand, remote workstation Two compact 5 MP cameras mounted outside hood**New hood with integrated cameras and workstation
Software SaaS model “IV Workload Management Solution”; photo capture; pharmacist work queue; barcode verification “Web-based”; photo capture; pharmacist work queue; video messaging Photo capture;  web-based pharmacist check queue Photo capture; bi-directional com; image capture; pharmacist check queue
Acute Care Focus





Interesting features SaaS model; per-dose pricing;  barcode scanning; telepharmacy remote checking; SAS70 compliant hosting/storage site; automated volume calculations; kitting Telepharmacy remote checking;  video messaging between tech and pharmacist; patented camera for use in hood; multiple configurations Telepharmacy remote checking; integration with central pharmacy workflow system; “call button” for pharmacist interaction Camera mounted outside hood;  barcode scanning; pharmacist queue can be accessed via mobile device; configurable stage verification**New hood design with camera and workstation built into hood.
Advantage(s) Head start in the market; market penetration; name recognition; Baxa backing (resources); photo capture; iv room specialty; Use of telepharmacy technology (have been doing telepharmacy for a while); camera design; photo capture Use of telepharmacy technology; name recognition (although not in AC) Unique camera feature; acute care focus; i.v. room specialists; only product with camera and workstation built directly into the hood**Integrated camera and monitor in hood
Biggest Weakness Cost; no new features in a while Small; no market penetration Relative unknown in AC; poor online information and marketing Relative unknown product

Saturday morning coffee [December 22 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….

Christmas MugThe 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. This Christmas themed mug is one of four that he sent me a few weeks ago. And what do you know; it just so happens to be the perfect occasion to bust out a Christmas mug. Boo-ya!  Jason also blogs over at The Cynical Pharmacist. Check it out.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was #1 at the box office last weekend. No surprise there. It did a respectable $85 Million, which is a record for weekend openings in December besting the previous record holder, I Am Legend’s $77 Million. My family and I contributed to the Hobbit’s box office success by going to see it last Sunday. Was it good? Yes, of course. Was it great? No, I don’t think it was. It was visual appealing, and never boring, but it was hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea of a trilogy of movies based on the book. I definitely recommend you see it on the big screen.
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [December 22 2012]

RFID-enabled carousel [Video]

A link to the video below was left in the comment section of my recent ASHP Midyear 2012 post. The video features a SencorpWhite RFID MiniVert Carousel. Pretty cool use of RFID technology. Where would something like this fit in a pharmacy? Not really sure, but I can think of a few use cases that would make sense.

From the SencorpWhite site:

In the pharmacy setting, the integrated RFID provides two distinct operations –real-time put-and-pick verification and cycle counting –and so, the MicroVert allows stock transactions to be securely and accurately monitored without operator intervention. In addition, inventory can be audited on-demand in as little as 30 seconds.

Note taking and tablets [inforgraphic]

Here’s an interesting infographic from Livescribe that covers how users take notes with or without tablets.

Couple of things I find particularly interesting:

  • 54% of tablet owners take notes with pen and paper, i.e. not on their tablets. See my thoughts on that here.
  • Only 6% of tablet users take notes on their tablet with a stylus. I think this has more to do with the tablets that are out there and their uses, i.e. consumers are driving the tablet market.
  • Only 13% of users that purchased a stylus are happy with the experiecne. Two thoughts on this: 1) active digitizers rule, 2) the disconnect between writing on the screen and the appearance of “ink” on the screen is problematic. The new batch of tablets has improved this experience dramatically.

(infographic reproduced below with permission)
Continue reading Note taking and tablets [inforgraphic]

Saturday morning coffee [December 15 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….

Pike Place Market Starbucks Coffee MugThe coffee mug to the right comes from Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA, home of the first Starbucks Store. I got the mug on my first trip to Seattle, which just so happened to be during a trip to give a presentation for the company I currently work for. I wasn’t an employee at the time, but they invited me up to talk about the automation and technology that we were using in our pharmacy at Kaweah Delta Medical Center where I was employed as an “IT Pharmacist”. One of the things I really wanted to do during my visit there was visit Pike Place Market and see the first Starbucks. My brother, Robert used to work in Seattle and he gave me a list of things to do and see. I only managed to get  to a few of things on the list, but this was one of them. The first Starbucks is different from any other Starbucks I’ve ever been to. It doesn’t have that corporate-lets-make-money feel to it.

Here’s an interesting twist at the box office, Skyfall continues to do well as it rose back to the#1 spot last weekend. Good movie, highly recommended. Rise of the Guardians came in at #2.  This of course will be short lived as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will kill at the box office this weekend. There is no doubt that I will see The Hobbit, but I must say that the reviews have not been flattering. I read the book as a child and again as an adult.
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [December 15 2012]

Two years as a product manager, a retrospective

Second DownA colleague wished me a happy two year anniversary the other day. Apparently LinkedIn tracks that kind of stuff. I knew it had been about two years since leaving pharmacy practice and becoming a product manager, but I hadn’t really given it a whole lot of thought until now.

So, two years. What’s that mean? Not much really, especially if you buy into the theory outlined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. According to Gladwell it takes about 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to truly master a skill, any skill. Given that I’ve been a product manager for two years, and assuming that an average year is about 2,000 hours of work, which we know is laughable, then I’ve barely scratched the surface.
Continue reading Two years as a product manager, a retrospective

Augmented reality has potential for use in pharmacy

Augmented reality has been a standard of science fiction for decades, but now it’s a reality. We all remember the Starbucks app that made the Red Holiday Cup come to life last year, right? If not here’s a video on YouTube. Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg as Google and Microsoft have both started playing with the concept; Google with Project Glass and Microsoft by filing a patient with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “event augmentation with real-time information” last year. Google’s Project Glass was even named one of 2012’s best inventions by TIME.

Setting aside the marketing hype for such things for a minute consider the practical uses in pharmacy practice for something like Google’s Project Glass. Imagine two similar, but distinctly different scenarios:
Continue reading Augmented reality has potential for use in pharmacy