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Three game-changing pharmacy innovations are reducing error and lowering costs


What percentage of medications prescribed in the United States are taken off-label? The answer might shock you. After attorney Tamera Venzke spoke to a client who had suffered serious kidney complications after taking a drug approved only for migraines, she decided to take action. With her physician partner Jim Brantner, she founded GoToPills, which provides a free app for consumers to check drugs they’ve been prescribed for FDA-approved uses. And it offers physicians and pharmacists a comprehensive suite of tools — including off-label alerts, off-label informed consents, and FDA-approved list functions — to make sure they’ve made the right prescribing decision and GotoPillsRx, which tailors medications for each patient.

GoToPills is easily integrated into electronic health and e-prescribing systems, according to Venzke. The company was selected by Walgreens to be part of their healthcare app portfolio, she notes, and other affiliations are on the horizon: “GoToPills is in discussion with NASA to be part of the medication program for astronauts and is in discussion with a chain of hospitals for implementation of the prescribing tools,” Venzke tells Telemedicine Magazine.

“The health and lawsuit risks associated with off-label drugs are substantial,” Venzke asserts. “Since 2009, more than $14 billion dollars have been paid in off-label drugs settlements and that number is growing.”


Are you ready to have your prescriptions filled by robots?

With ScriptPro’s Compact Robotic System (CRS), currently on permanent display in Cleveland, Ohio, at the HIMSS Innovation Center — part of the Global Center for Health Innovation —  you can see the robotic future in telepharmacy. The CRS display features a touchscreen kiosk that enables visitors to fill and dispense a sample prescription through the robot. This showcases, according to company officials, the “efficiency, safety, and accuracy” of ScriptPro systems as they are utilized in retail and ambulatory pharmacy operations. Behind the scenes—and less evident to Innovation Center visitors—are ScriptPro’s strategic planning and financial management services designed to help health systems succeed in a dynamic and financially challenging environment.

The Global Center for Health Innovation functions as a permanent demonstration and testing site open year round to show how interoperable technologies improve the quality and efficiency of care for patients and communities.


One evening KitCheck founder Kevin MacDonald was having dinner with a hospital pharmacist who had just spent two days manually checking pharmacy kits for proper medications and expiration dates. With his background in cloud software and RFID, McDonald was confident this mundane task could be automated. What he found out was that not only could automation reduce labor time by about 90%, but it could also eliminate human error.

“In just about three years, more than 200 hospitals have adopted KitCheck, which has resulted in an average savings of 71%-96% in labor cost while simultaneously improving kit stocking accuracy by virtually 100%,” says Chief Marketing Officer Bret Kinsella.

Kinsella believes that the benefits of KitCheck will make it an industry standard and expects

AnesthesiaCheck, the company’s other product, to take off as well for use in the OR. We’re entering a new era of data-driven pharmacy, says Kinsella. “Clinical pharmacy decisions are already being made using data analytics,” Kinsella says. “KitCheck’s solutions are the first to provide medication tracking and operational data, which will enable optimized processes, real-time visibility and better decision making.”

Legislators are considering measures to require medication tracking from manufacturers to distributors to the hospital, Kinsella adds. That will be implemented over the next five years to provide a robust view of medication through the hospital supply chain, perhaps similar to the Food Safety Modernization Act now regulates the food chain. “Within a decade, we will know the trail from manufacture to patient use for every medication,” he says, “and companies like KitCheck will provide data to support that visibility and also automate handling processes along the path.”


Michael Levin-Epstein, JD, M.Ed is a Maryland-based freelance writer who contributes to EPM, Telemedicine and other health care and business-related publications.

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