This past January, Scott Caravello, R.Ph., owner of Galva Pharmacy in Northwestern Illinois, got a call from his software vendor, Speed Script. Would he be willing to implement a new feature called SmartSuite from DrFirst?
For 30-plus years, Caravello has always embraced the call from Speed Script to try something new. Caravello has been impressed that they listened to his feedback, and while he’s not a “tech guy,” he’s open to implementing new features. “I get things first, and we’ll test it out for several months and give feedback,” he says.
“The AI automatically formulates the system fields for all the directions in the proper way. It actually finds the drug out of my drug file. It finds my directions. It does all these functions seamlessly in one step.”
– Scott Caravello, R.Ph.
In this case, Galva Pharmacy was the first pharmacy in the United States to implement SmartSuite. Now available to pharmacies, SmartSuite has been used by hospitals and health systems since 2015 to enhance the quality of more than 6 million prescriptions per day. The technology accurately translates 93% of patient directions, helping avoid medication errors and saving 10 seconds or more of work for each drug entered. The program uses artificial intelligence (AI) to aggregate data to eliminate the routine task of translating e-prescriptions. While standard pharmacy system algorithms have about a 40% accuracy rate translating e-prescriptions, DrFirst says the SmartSuite’s algorithms come in at more than 90% accuracy. The AI searches for patterns and missing information, substituting the pharmacy’s NDCs based on what’s in its inventory, as well as translating doctor directions. This saves time with prescriptions, says Caravello.
A study at the University of Michigan, where researchers analyzed more than 500,000 e-prescriptions, documents the benefit of AI. Researchers found 84% of sigs needed to be edited to improve readability. This translates into pharmacy staff putting a significant effort into transcribing directions.
“The AI automatically formulates the system fields for all the directions in the proper way. It actually finds the drug out of my drug file. It finds my directions. It does all these functions seamlessly in one step,” explains Caravello.
Saving Seconds and Staying Independent
Like his peers, Caravello got started in pharmacy at a young age and liked the concept of being a small business owner. Operating the lone pharmacy in the small city of Galva, Caravello prides himself for building a pharmacy that serves the community. He and his staff know everyone on a first-name basis, and his pharmacy has a front end that carries, in addition to standbys like cards and candy, items that residents might have to drive elsewhere to get if he didn’t carry them, such as accessories that fit the American Doll brand dolls , music items (since there is not a music store nearby), and craft supplies.
“My philosophy is, if I can keep people in town, it helps everyone in the community,” he says.
Fundamentally, Caravello believes that what sets Galva Pharmacy apart as an independent is providing individualized attention to his patients. He also values the autonomy of being his own boss, something he wanted when he first got into pharmacy at 16. The owners of the pharmacy where Caravello worked modeled the benefits of owning the pharmacy.
”I realized how much fun they were having owning their own store,” he says.
Quantifying the SmartSuite Value for Galva Pharmacy:*
- Improved data entry quality for 93% of prescriptions.
- Decreased time for sig entry by 59%.
- Decreased time for overall prescription entry by 45%.
*Statistics provided by DrFirst.
He relies on his Speed Script system to handle the nuts and bolts of running the pharmacy, and the addition of a service like DrFirst means he can spend more time with his patients.
“I’d rather just continue doing the services that I do and being that friendly pharmacist that people love,” he says. “As the local pharmacist, I’m also the first line for healthcare. People will call the pharmacy first, and we give them the best answers we can to help them along the way.”
Caravello says that both Speed Script and DrFirst were quick to handle any issues. These vendors have nailed it, says Caravello. “Every day it just gets better. I would say we’re probably at about 95% accuracy,” he says. The biggest change for Galva Pharmacy staff was to remember they no longer had to override incorrect data or translate an NDC the doctor used for a drug in the pharmacy’s inventory. In the rare instances when it is not safe for the AI to decipher a doctor’s instructions, it won‘t do so, and Caravello will make the manual updates. He points out this is an exception, not the rule.
“It’s a huge timesaver, eliminating the need to punch in the drug to search the drug file to see which one is in inventory, how much we have. It just automatically does that for you,” he says. “I mean, when you talk about it, seconds are seconds, but at the same time, those seconds just make the workflow that much quicker and easier.”
“Number one in my eyes has always been the personal touch,” says Caravello. “I don’t care if I’m really busy, I still think the personal touch is what a small community pharmacy can offer.” CT
Maggie Lockwood is VP, Director of Production at ComputerTalk. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.