SANTEE, Calif. (Nov. 26, 2010) - Bill Nguyen, Tricare Outpatient Clinic (TOC) East County Pharmacy Pharmacist, takes a photo of a medication at a ScriptPro work station to send to another pharmacist via telepharmacy. The TOC East County Pharmacy dispenses more than 250 patient medications daily. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Todd Hack/Released)
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Todd Hack, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SANTEE, Calif. – Naval Medical Center San Diego’s (NMCSD) TRICARE Outpatient Clinic (TOC) East County Pharmacy in Santee, Calif. modernized pharmaceutical care in September 2010 with the installation of a new robotic system.
The ScriptPro® robotic filling and computerized workflow system helps to reduce prescription errors achieving safety in every step of the prescription dispensing process. Different robots (SP100, SP50, SP200) were installed at each NMCSD clinic depending on its size.
“We were the only Naval Medical Center San Diego Health Clinic pharmacy to have a robotic system in 2007,” said Bill Nguyen, TOC East County pharmacist. “The new system is safer than the old system and includes telepharmacy workstations.”
The new robotic systems were purchased by Naval Medical Logistics Command in Fort Detrick, Md., for Navy Military Treatment Facilities around the world. The cost for installation of the new systems to NMCSD clinics and TOCs was approximately $4 million.
The new SP 100 robotic system installed at the TOC East County Pharmacy is easily calibrated and allows for different medications in each of its 100 cells. The system can convey all of a specific patient’s medications to one location after labeling each bottle.
“We dispense more than 250 medications here for approximately 100 patients per day,” said Nguyen. “Most of our patients bring in prescriptions from physicians outside of the (TOC East County) clinic or the NMCSD system.”
The process is simple, a technician verifies the patient’s prescription label against the medication, compares the medication to a picture of what the medicine at the work station, and then verifies it with the patient information.
“If the patient and the medication are not correct, the system will not respond. You can’t mix different patient’s medications because only one patient’s medications can be verified at a time,” said Nguyen.
The new technology offers software and hardware solutions that allow pharmacies to conduct safe and efficient telepharmacy operations to include live audio or video connections from clinic-to-clinic and from provider-to-patient to allow for real-time communication.
“The telepharmacy work stations provide a little more flexibility,” said Nguyen. “It is best to use during emergency situations.”
When a pharmacist is not present, a pharmacy technician can scan the product's barcode and the hardcopy prescription. Then the technician captures an image of the medication, and prints the image of the prescription label. Once all the prescriptions for the patient are ready and batched, the technician calls the off-site pharmacist for prescription verification.
“We have four work stations and three dispensing stations that can be utilized for telepharmacy,” said Nguyen.
If a pharmacist is unavailable for medication patient counseling, the pharmacy technician can call an off-site pharmacist and share the prescription information on-screen so all parties have a visual of the order. If the patient requests counseling, he or she simply uses an electronic signature device and the on-site technician turns the monitor to the patient so the off-site pharmacist may provide private audio or visual counseling and education.
The wait time for prescriptions is approximately 20-30 minutes, but patients have the option of dropping off their prescriptions and coming back to retrieve their medications.
“Since we are located in the Santee Town Center shopping area, we encourage (patients) to leave their prescriptions and come back after shopping, eating or banking,” said Nguyen. “We find the patients are more content and relaxed if they aren’t made to wait for their prescriptions in our lobby.”
TOC East County is one of NMCSD's 11 primary care clinics. The pharmacy is located at 110 Town Center Parkway in Santee and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is closed on weekends and holidays.
For more information about the TOC East County Pharmacy or Naval Medical Center San Diego visit http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/Patients/Pages/TOC-EastCounty.aspx or http://www.navy.mil/local/sd/.