COVID-19 Driving Pharmacy Automation

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by Mark Rinker, VP of Sales, Synergy Medical


Mark Rinker

Synergy Medical is the largest manufacturer in North America for single-dose and multidose blister pack automation systems. Today nearly 95% of all multidose blister pack systems in North America use SynMed technologies.

This pandemic unfortunately has exposed many pharmacies that have relied on manual processes for prescription fulfillment. Synergy Medical has been recognized as an “essential company,” and we have responded with emergency installations of the SynMed system. In other cases, pharmacies have redirected their blister pack production to central-fill services.

Unfortunately, long-term care facilities have proven to be ground zero for COVID-19, and transmission of the virus has insidiously infected many residents as well as healthcare providers. Both LTC pharmacies and facilities have changed practices to limit the spread of the virus. A very early trend we have witnessed is the adoption of multidose blisters for medication administration. Multidose blisters with automation preparation serve to limit the touches during production and greatly reduce the bedside administration time for the caregiver.

Blister packaging is often the most repetitive, time-consuming task in pharmacies, and the SynMed system has proven over time to be a reliable solution to automate this process, limit touches, and better service facilities.

We have LTC customers that have moved away from unit-dose blister packaging and adopted multidose blister packaging for two reasons. One is to focus on infection control and ensure there is no direct human contact with medications during medication preparation or med pass. And the other is to focus on reducing the amount of time during med pass. Facilities that have moved toward multidose packaging for dispensing medications have experienced up to a 75% reduction in the amount of time required for a nurse to dispense medications.

The LTC market was experiencing significant changes before COVID-19, as the trend was away from skilled nursing facilities toward assisted-living, group homes, and home-based care models. Medication packaging requirements are shifting too, as med pass is now the responsibility of non-skilled employees or patients themselves. Multidose blister packaging that organizes a patient’s medication by day and dose time enables patients to be adherent with their medication, even when self-medicating. CT