When Kyle Lomax, pharmacist & owner at Southern Pharmacy, wanted to grow his adherence program, he realized that manually filling blister cards was a huge limitation.
“Before we bought the RapidPakRx™, we were using a manual card-based system that was labor intensive,” Lomax explains. “We had reached capacity and needed automation to help us package adherence-based patients, so we chose the RapidPakRx.”
Lomax didn’t make the decision lightly. As a true family-owned business (his father founded the Jonesboro, Arkansas-based pharmacy in 1974) with six locations, Southern Pharmacy prides itself on treating patients with great service, while keeping a “hometown feel.”
“It’s a family business and we like to treat it like a family,” Lomax says.
Southern Pharmacy’s service area includes a large concentration of Medicare enrollees, so people on multiple medications are very common patients in his stores.
“The decision for us to find a solution was based on the market and giving our patients an option that a lot of other providers in our area, and even across the nation, didn't have at the time,” says Lomax. “Our goal was to basically give them a tool to make their life easier on a day-to-day basis.”
Space constraints were no small concern
Lomax is no stranger to pharmacy automation, having a Parata MAX as well as several Eyecon counting machines. When considering a strip packaging system, one of his primary concerns was space requirements.
“We are a very small pharmacy and needed a machine that would actually fit in here,” Lomax says. “We also wanted a machine that would give us the option of non-NDC-specific cartridges and also an all-in-one system that included the visual inspection.”
RapidPakRx has the smallest footprint of any strip packaging system in the industry. At 33”x18”x60”, the RapidPakRx can fit into tight spaces. What’s more, the vision inspection camera is built-in, so it takes up no additional space. Competing systems may use a separate camera that needs its own, separate workspace and requires an additional step in your workflow.
Vision inspection - “better than the human eye”
Lomax points out that the built-in vision inspection is sensitive enough to pick up small defects in tablets and capsules that the human eye could not detect.
“We had a capsule that came apart inside of a bottle, and for some reason the end of that capsule got slid on top of another capsule that went into the RapidPakRx,” Lomax says. “It was the same size and same color, so it fit right over the end of that capsule.”
When the RapidPakRx software encountered the capsule during final inspection, it flagged the pouch as containing a potential error.
“So, we took it out and looked at it. It looked right. But when we really looked at it closely, it had an end on it that was red, just like the red capsule that went on there. The sensitivity of the machine basically kicked it out because of the small increase in size that the extra capsule put on the end.”
Lomax says the visual inspection is a huge step up from manually reviewing blister card cells.
“With the card-based system, if there's multiple meds in a cell, you have to look at each individual cell and each individual drug inside that cell,” Lomax says. “The RapidPakRx system gives you a picture to look at for each package. Also, inside of that, it's giving you some visual guidance on what you should expect inside of that package. It makes it really flow a lot better than our card-based system.”
Compliance, labor savings add up
“We have seen that patient compliance has definitely increased since adding strip packaging,” Lomax says. “With the introduction of the RapidPakRx, we feel like we can expand adherence packaging to all of our patients, where before, with the card-based system, we were limited in our ability to do that because of the inefficiencies with that system.”
In addition to improving his pharmacy’s CMS Star ratings, Southern Pharmacy has also dramatically increased productivity.
“Using the RapidPakRx versus card filling has cut down on our production time at least 50 percent,” Lomax says. “The visual inspection software included with the RapidPakRx gives us the ability to verify packages very easily. The non-specific cartridges make it easy for us to change NDCs on the fly, and the small size in our retail environment has been a great fit for us.”
Final test: the patients
While the pharmacy’s productivity and profit gains are huge, Lomax says he is most happy about his patients’ health gains, and Southern Pharmacy’s role in improving the health of his local community.
“We've had tremendous response from our patients. It's been really well received,” Lomax adds. “I'm very excited and I think it’s got great potential for giving patients a different option on how to manage their medications.”
Want to see if RapidPakRx is a fit for your pharmacy? Be sure to visit us at the PDS Super-Conference, at Booth #901, for a live demo. PDS members will receive “show-special pricing” for the duration of the show, which runs Feb. 21-23 in Orlando, Florida. For more information, visit our product page, or call (877) 672-4956 now to speak with an automation expert.