How it Works
The MedCenter needs to solve a variety of challenges to be a successful product. It has to be sufficiently small and economical to operate profitably without special space considerations. It also has to handle a diverse selection of medication packages reliably without human intervention. Moreover, since pharmacy dispensing is a regulated act, it has to be supervised by human expertise without being time consuming. Lastly, the MedCenter needs to be able to change workflow steps and tie in to enterprise software systems already used in pharmacy practice.
MedAvail’s fourth-generation MedCenter is a ground up redesign that offers a unique solution to the problem of dispensing medications without a pharmacist physically present. Unlike its predecessors and competitors, it allows pharmacy to reach places never before feasible, whether due to space constraints, staffing considerations, or physical remoteness. The MedCenter is designed to fit in waiting rooms, hallways, and lobbies. It automatically reads package barcodes and determines the size and shape of packages for suitable handling and labeling. Using these technologies, medications can go from “in the vault” to “in a patient’s hands” without being touched by a human, while adhering to strict regulations required in the rapidly-growing number of jurisdictions permitting remote dispensing. Each location can support a different medication formulary tailored to clinical, demographic, or business needs.
Enterprise Grade Software Solution
In addition to the patient application that runs on the MedCenter, the MedAvail Remote Dispensing System comes with software applications that work in unison with existing pharmacy applications to control the dispense process, manage the system as a whole, and provide services needed to meet business and regulatory requirements. MedOps, which handles configuration and monitoring, allows pharmacies to configure the system and meet ongoing monitoring and maintenance needs. MedDispense, which is the pharmacy application, presents staff with the units of work needed to enter, review, counsel, and release medications. MedDispense also coordinates with call center systems where desired. Both applications have clean and simple web interface and are straightforward to use. Furthermore, these applications can be easily deployed for distributed workforces or centralized call centers.
The MedCenter has an inset screen housing with an integrated array of high fidelity speakers with special audio processing to enhance privacy. The MedCenter also includes a telephone handset, allowing patients to choose between the convenience of hands-free audio, and the comfort and security of a conventional handset. Two-way audio and video is available between the MedCenter and MedDispense workstations at the pharmacy contact center. This audio-video “Skype-like” conferencing is facilitated using a standard SIP audio-video software telephone. The MedCenter is also available with Privacy Panels on either side of the user interface, to further enhance the privacy of the patient/pharmacist interaction.
The MedCenter offers a variety of physical protections to meet regulatory requirements for the safety of the public and for loss prevention. Medications are stored in a securely logged and climate-monitored environment. Separately controlled doors offer physical access levels to the interior of the MedCenter, including consumable (paper and labels) replacement, medication replenishment, paper prescription removal, service and maintenance. All regulated acts are performed under the professional supervision of regulated health professionals, and the tedious work of physically accessing medication stocks is automated for improved density of storage and reduced human error. The quality assurance and professional responsibility of the pharmacist are supported by a combination of automated and visual checks. These checks, which are done all at once for a given set of medications, reduce the workload of busy pharmacists.