Using technology to advance pharmacy practice through education

funny_tech_cartoonI found an interesting article in the October issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. The article, titled Informatics in clinical instruction (Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2009 Oct 1;66(19):1694, 1699), gives a description of a software system designed by the authors that “allows students at one site to receive online and teleconference instruction from preceptors at multiple sites through remote, interactive discussion. It also allows “blogging” based on assigned videotapes, simulation modules, live patient cases, discussion questions, and primary literature review. In addition, the system facilitates clinical encounter documentation, including interviewing patients, taking physical assessments (e.g., blood pressure), taking medication histories, assessing for adverse effects (e.g., abnormal involuntary movements), and addressing potential or actual medication-related problems(MRPs).”
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A little assistance for choosing the right barcode reader

barcode.com: “With all of the data capture solutions on the market today, choosing a barcode scanner may seem overwhelming. However, after analyzing all of your needs, making the right choice should come easily. It’s important to analyze both the requirements of your business and what your budget allows. First and foremost, ask yourself, “what barcode symbology will I need to be scanning?” While laser scanners are a cost-effective option, they aren’t able to scan 2D barcodes (aside from the PDF-417, a 2D-like symbology), which digital imagers can. With the use of 2D barcodes on the rise, it may be wise to invest in a digital imager so that it will better accommodate future progressions in technology. On the other hand, digital imagers can decode 2D barcodes, which can be encoded with a significantly greater amount of information than their 1D counterparts. In addition, imagers allow for omni-direction barcode reading, eliminating the need to accommodate the scanning device. Area imagers can even read Direct Part Marking (DPM), a method of permanently marking a product, allowing the product to be tracked throughout its life.” – Our facility uses a combination of barcode scanners in the pharmacy, and I can honestly say choosing the right one can make all the difference. I have personal experience with a few barcode scanners from Code Corporation and Honeywell (previously Handheld). In my opinion the Honeywell products are better. They are easy to use and very forgiving when it comes to scanning medication barcodes. The Code scanners require a little manipulation and better aim, which can be frustrating when you’re in a hurry.

For more information on barcode readers, try barcode.com, barcoding.com or idautomation.com.

New barcode technology coming out of MIT

Engadget: “Since barcodes are the sign of the devil (must be true, we read it on the interwebs) it’s no surprise thateveryone wants to replace ’em. QR codes have been quite popular, allowing people and companies to tag their stuff with colorful decals filled with bits and bytes, and of course RFID tags are still going strong, but a team of researchers at MIT has come up with something better: Bokode. It’s effectively a tiny little retroreflective holograph that is just 3mm wide but, when a camera focused to infinity sweeps across it, the Bokodes become clear and appear much larger, captured in the video below. In this way they can contain “thousands of bits” of data and, interestingly, show positional information too, meaning the camera knows where in 3D space it is in relation to the tag. This, of course, has hundreds of potential applications ranging from grocery shopping to augmented reality, and should lead to new and exciting ways for scholars to interpret/misinterpret Revelations.” – I first saw this information yesterday in a link to a BBC News article that was floating around Twitter. I can see use for such barcode technology in pharmacy. In the BBC article, Dr. Mohan (one of the MIT researchers) makes a comment that while standing in front of thousands of books “You could take a picture and you’d immediately know where the book you’re looking for is.” Now, replace the word ‘book(s)’ with ‘drug(s)’ and you will understand my interest. More information can be found here.

The use of speed bumps in healthcare

speed_bumpsOne day last week I was driving home and happened by a school that doubles as a community swimming pool in the summer. The street had several large speed bumps, forcing me to move rather slowly. I’m usually irritated by speed bumps because they slow me down. This day, however, I was happy they were there because a little boy darted out in front of me. I drive a ¾ ton Ford f250 crew cab pick-up. It’s big and heavy. I have serious doubts that a child would stand much of a chance if they went head-to-head with my truck. Fortunately I was coasting along at a safe 10 MPH secondary to the speed bumps and easily came to a stop at a comfortable distance away. At that moment I was thankful for the safety feature built into the pavement on the road, i.e. the speed bumps.

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