The following is an excerpt from “The Evolution of Central Fill,” ComputerTalk September/October 2014. Thrifty White Pharmacy, a long-time ScriptPro customer, is featured in this informative article about today’s central fill operations.
When you set aside the notion that you need to meet certain criteria of size, geographic spread, or technology investment to make central fill viable, it turns out that more pharmacies than you might think can benefit from central fill.
“Central fill means that we can streamline our workflow and create efficiencies so that our local pharmacists are able to use their clinical skills with their patients,” says Tanya Schmidt, Pharm.D., Central Sites Operation Manager, Thrifty White Pharmacy. “This has really enhanced the pharmacist-patient relationship.”
Among the services supported by central fill at Thrifty White, Schmidt lists immunizations, counseling, and comprehensive medication reviews.
Hardware that automates the fulfillment process plays a major role in central fill. This ranges from countertop counting to counting cabinets, robotics, and conveyor systems. Thrifty White uses a sophisticated array of hardware to fill prescriptions at central fill, according to Tanya Schmidt. There are ScriptPro robots being fed vials by a puck-based conveyor system used to carry orders, as well as an autobagger and autocappers. In the manual-fill area, Thrifty White is using Kirby Lester counters. “So there are quite a few systems working together at one time,” says Schmidt.
The pucks are an interesting and advanced feature. They use RFID tags to transmit details to the conveyor and robotics about just where they are going and what needs to go in the vials. Schmidt is also quick to note that the ScriptPro robots are not what you’d find in a typical retail location.
“They’ve been customized and configured so that a conveyor belt brings the vials in the pucks directly into the base of the robot, and then an arm picks up the bottle for filling,” she explains.
Central fill might be perceived as outsourcing prescriptions, which is categorically not the case. Both Dave Adsit and Tanya Schmidt emphasize how important it is to be sure people understand that these are prescriptions being filled by the pharmacies’ own staff to the highest standards of quality and precision.
“Some people may not realize that there’s probably even greater consistency of quality in a central site than we can achieve in-store,” says Schmidt, “because of the automation applied to filling and routing and the RFID-driven management of orders.”