In this interview with ComputerTalk, PreceptiMed’s President, CTO, and Founder Alan Jacobs shares his inspiration for scripClip and his vision for will-call automation that focuses on technology that eliminates medication errors in retail pharmacies, long-term care facilities and hospitals.
ComputerTalk: Dr. Jacobs, what was the spark of inspiration that caused you to develop scripClip?
Alan Jacobs: Well, when you spend time in a pharmacy, you can’t help noticing all the problems servicing customers at pickup — long lines, clerks searching and searching for customers’ prescriptions, lost prescriptions, customers leaving the store without some of their prescriptions or being given someone else’s prescriptions, and customers having to slowly re-spell their name. Then there’s the clerk holding a very long printout list of unclaimed prescriptions that have to be located on the shelves and pulled for return to stock. It dawned on me that will call was a portion of pharmacy workflow that had remained pretty much unchanged for almost a century. Pharmacy management systems can tell you if a prescription was completed, but the staff is still left to hunt for the prescription.
CT: Who have your partnered with to help you develop scripClip?
Jacobs: We have taken a three-point approach with pharmacists to help us develop scripClip. First, Purdue University Pharmacy (read about Director of Pharmacy Nicole Noel, Pharm.D.’s experience with scripClip implementation in ComputerTalk’s May/June issue) has been awesome in recognizing the early potential to improve its will-call processes and provide a safer and faster system for getting medications into the hands of its patients. Purdue was the first pharmacy to use the model of scripClip that simply clips onto the outside of paper bags at the time of packaging. Another big development advantage came from detailed discussions with some of the top national chains. They wanted a lot more functionality than just a flashing light clipped to a bag and were instrumental in delineating their workflow needs. They required numerous software features to manage thousands of packages in will-call, deal with complex orders, insure safety through a chain of custody management, and be able to easily install and maintain the system. Finally, the flexibility of the scripClip system was developed to provide for the mixed use of hanging bag scripClips and clip-on scripClips for oversized packages. An independent pharmacy has been extremely cooperative in letting us examine how their staff uses scripClip features and allow us to study and measure the pharmacy’s workflow activities.
CT: Now that your product is launched with systems installed, where do you see the greatest need for automated will-call bin management?
Jacobs: scripClip provides better safety and faster retrievals in all pharmacy environments. Any pharmacy that is concerned with customer retention and compliance needs an automated will-call management system. We see interest from pharmacies with as few as 100-bag will-call setups, to pharmacies with over 500 bags. Of course, the labor savings makes the scripClip system very attractive from a financial point of view. Pharmacies can expect breakeven times under one year.
CT: Is there anything else you can mention at this time that PerceptiMed is working on?
Jacobs: PerceptiMed’s vision is to create new products that improve pharmacy safety while increasing operating efficiency. We are bringing machine vision and artificial intelligence to the task of correctly identifying all pills in a prescription and then automatically filling the prescriptions. Imagine if a counting tray could evolve into an intelligent, sight-enabled, self-operating machine with a knowledge of all medications in a formulary. While it may be a while before you take your self-driving car to pick up a prescription, that prescription will be filled, very soon, using similar advanced technology. CT