Pharmacy automation and pharmacy workflow technology today can come to us from many directions and in all types, shapes and sizes. The EyeCon VCS countertop dispensing system, with a footprint of 1 sq. ft...yes 1 sq.ft... is much more than an automated counting device.
I didn't realize the new EyeCon VCS unit didn't count dosage forms by weight—but rather by an advanced visual counting system—specific to a drug's NDC...and it is always accurate and fast. The EyeCon VCS will count tablets and capsules at an amazing speed of 200 milliseconds!
Wanting to move away from traditional solid dosage form weight-driven counting devices...and their tendency to error producing miscounts/misfills...we recently added an EyeCon VCS countertop dispensing system now marketed by RxMedic, the makers of RxMedic ADS and RxMedic ACS.
In eight words: EyeCon VCS: a remarkable piece of pharmacy automation technology!
The EyeCon VCS accurately counts tablets and capsules tied to an associated NDC, drug name and shadow shape image used and presented for display screens and counting. The shadow dosage form image is captured by a camera mounted on the EyeCon VCS display arm. During the one-time setup, various configuration settings are completed to establish user security, LAN (local area network computer access), separate laptop dedicated computer data storage (if desired) through one of two USB 2.0 ports and correct barcode reading. The barcode reader, on the front of the EyeCon VCS unit, reads information about the item scanned using your either the Rx vial label or Rx receipt barcode printed from your pharmacy filling software with an available minimalist programming addition from your supplier (most suppliers already have the small program available for addition to your current software at no cost).
What I've learned, as with other RxMedic systems, there are no misfills and the operation is FAST! One of three key workflow areas in which we've initiated use of this unit is the completion of filling/dispensing large size and high count (90day-360 's) prescriptions. This is so much quicker than the manual count by 5's we've always used. For you left-handed folks, at last a counting device designed for comfortable use eliminating in many circumstances the typical right-hand counting trays we've all used for years. Yes, change often does come dropping slow....but its here.
When using the bar code scanner on the EyeCon VCS to read the bar code printed on the Rx vial prescription label or receipt, the bar code triggers the unit to pull from its harddrive data base (located within the unit), the shape, size and shadow information specific to the 11 digit NDC . It comes programmed with the most current drug NDC database covering approximately 95-98 percent of your inventory. Upon registration of the unit with the EyeCon website, quarterly updates are available online. This unit even gives you an alert before the current Medi-Span database needs be updated (includes dosage form color also).
As the prescription vial or Rx receipt (or both) has within its barcode the Rx number, NDC required and quantity (number of units) demanded for accurate fill, the EyeCon VCS unit prepares itself for comparison with the bulk drug container when the vial or Rx receipt barcode is visualized (scanned) in front of the type 2 Laser reader. Upon scanning the bulk container barcode, dosage form units are placed onto the counting platter for immediate counting and verification of correct NDC.
Immediately, the EyeCon VCS unit displays the quantity "counted" and indicates on its display screen:
Yellow = Under target quantity Red = Over target quantity Green = Target quantity
Once the target quantity is met (typically in 5 seconds or less depending upon user addition speed), dosage forms are removed from the counting platter with a spatula to the filling funnel for dispersal into the Rx prescription vial. The counting event is now complete.
The Eyecon VCS is much more than a countertop dispensing unit. Besides the Rx Dispensing (Counting) Mode, it also offers a (an):
Rx Validation/Workflow Mode. This provides the pharmacist with the ability to perform the quality assurance workflow step confirming that the correct drug (NDC) and correct quantity were dispensed complete with a visual stock color image of the medication dosage form dispensed.
Inventory Mode. This feature allows staff to do physical inventory counts with the results also being stored as data which can be imported to Microsoft Excel if desired.
Using the unit while in the Inventory Mode also allows rapid counting of inventory destined for medication replenishment into cells used within an RxMedic ADS or RxMedic ACS pharmacy automation system ensuring accurate inventory addition levels.
A major advantage of the EyeCon VCS, which encourages pharmacy workflow efficiency and accuracy (reduced misfills and lost inventory dollars among others), is that each count has the event captured digitally with the following:
-Transaction number -Time/date
-User Login -User Name
-Rx number -NDC
-Drug Name -Target Quantity
-Actual Number of Units Dispensed
...and all with a stored harddrive retrievable photo of the event.
With the annual state Board of Pharmacy mandated controlled substance and narcotics inventory coming soon (May 1 here in SC and most other states), I'm anxious to see just how quickly...and most importantly---accurately... the EyeCon VCS will help complete the audit. This of course includes record identification of who did the audit and when. One user with whom I spoke prior to committing to the unit, was able to complete (he does his monthly) the entire narcotics inventory count for over 50 different line items in just over 30 minutes---no more early morning (before opening) or late night(after closing) annual counts as required by law than can take 2-3 hours or more when controls are included. I still remember the last chain store in which I worked(as a relief pharmacist) had so many different strengths, release forms and generic suppliers for one C-IV drug that it took 45 minutes alone to ensure accurate count for the NDC's in stock by manual 5's counting.
Jim Poels, PIC at Oneida Pharmacy (a part of the Intertribal Indian Healthcare Network in Oneida, Wisconsin) and user of an EyeCon VCS countertop dispensing system offered many comments to me recently about different pharmacy workflow issues. One area in which we conversed was about the time consuming effort by staff of counting 360 large-sized Metformin ER 500's for folks who wish a 90 day supply of their needed daily 2 tablets morning and night. Manual counts are necessary, of course, as 60 dram vials sizes won't work in any pharmacy automated dispensing system. This unit drastically reduces the amount of time to deliver a correct count.
But, of course, what about the 6-a-day Vicodin (hydrocodone/APAP) 5/500's folks who challenged the limit of nmt more 4000 mg of APAP daily (recently reduced to 3000mg)?...and the need to double count?
Stella, our RxMedic ADS Robot, seems to enjoy the addition of our EyeCon VCS (recently named "Junior"due to its 1 square foot footprint). Coupled with the RxMedic ACS we will soon to receive, we now have access to the complete range of pharmacy automation counting dispensing systems at our PC Community Care Pharmacy. A new software interface between Stella and Junior is also in the works from RxMedic.
We know we are reducing pharmacy workflow dysfunction with the addition of these units. And as another "icon" (James Brown-the R/B blues singer) used to sing: "I feel good...Knew that I would". Yes, indeed, the times are a changin' for our pharmacy cultures.