The pharmacy team at Grey Nuns Community Hospital has a shiny new tool that’s improving patient care, reducing eye strain on staff and achieving savings in health care delivery.
The FastPak Verification system is a $130,000 piece of equipment that lessens the reliance on manual checks of medication packages for patients at Grey Nuns and Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.
This investment, supported by Covenant Foundation donors, is not only benefitting patient care, it’s also making the health care system safer and more efficient.
Registered pharmacy technician Michelle Ducharme and her colleagues have spent the last several weeks creating the data base for the machine by taking multiple images of the oral medication dispensed at the pharmacy.
“It’s essentially a second set of eyes,” describes Ducharme, explaining how the machine can identify and verify the quantity, shape and colour of hundreds of tablets and capsules .
The machine’s data base includes unique patient identifiers and a list of their medication. Using that information, in addition to the images of tablets and capsules that have been uploaded to its database, the machine is equipped to confirm the contents in each medication pouch are accurate. If the machine identifies a potential discrepancy between the prescription order and the medication pouch, it flags that package for further review by pharmacy staff
In addition to enhancing patient safety, the machine can also verify medication packages in a fraction of the time it takes a pharmacy technician to complete the same task.
“We do get eye strain working here. We’re checking sometimes for seven hours in a day,” says Ducharme. “It really is taking the strain off our eyes, it is a second check. It’s really great.”
Maria Riley, unit manager for pharmacy services at the Grey Nuns Hospital, says the new equipment has been a welcome addition at a time when the pandemic is creating stress and fatigue amongst health care workers.
“There were so many interested people,” Riley explains. “The three weeks that Michelle was taking images (the staff) were all so interested in what she was doing and learning.”
While the machine is currently dedicated to serving the pharmaceutical needs at Grey Nuns and the Edmonton General, there is the potential for adding additional sites and creating further efficiencies in the future.
Written by: Laura Ehrkamp