Automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) have long been a mainstay in acute care settings, but their adoption into LTC (long-term care) pharmacy has been a slow, expensive process — until now. Capsa Healthcare’s Product Manager Chris Miller shares his insight with ComputerTalk after 20 years in the pharmacy industry. His experience can help an LTC pharmacy owner/ manager identify the right level of security when providing stat doses and controlled substances onsite in the LTC facility.
ComputerTalk: It’s somewhat shocking that in so many LTC facilities, pharmacies actually store stat dose medications — even narcotics — in a plastic tackle box.
Chris Miller: Most who’ve worked in the LTC pharmacy industry would acknowledge that change is slow to come. That’s changing.
CT: How prevalent is the “tackle box”?
Miller: Still more than 50% are using the tackle box. It’s cheap, it’s the status quo, and again, we are averse to change. It’s a huge misconception that the tackle box is cheap, however. It is incredibly costly when you take an honest look at how much an LTC pharmacy spends in stat dose runs and missed billings.
But the blame is partially on technology manufacturers; we weren’t listening. The solution for several years was to build tank-like automated dispensing cabinets, or ADCs. That was fine for hospital floors, but prohibitive for LTC. So if a closed-door pharmacy operator knows about ADCs, he or she frequently has misconceptions and outdated assumptions. Like ADCs cost a fortune. Or you can’t get your ROI (return on investment). Or they’re best for dispensing in a hospital, but not in an LTC facility.
CT: And those misconceptions aren’t true?
Miller: Maybe five, 10 years ago they held water, but not today. It took us a while, but now, if you look at the type of ADC that’s designed for LTC pharmacies, it is like night and day. CT: And you think Capsa has come to the right technology solution? Miller: Absolutely. ADC manufacturers were missing the big needs of scalability, affordability, simplicity, and security. They may have offered two or three, but never all four.
CT: Tell us what makes NexsysADC different.
Miller: The top need was security, but at a reasonable cost. Before, low-cost medication storage solutions were all light on features, and easy to skirt around. They were kind of an open free-for-all to access anything. So we developed a system that had the right levels of security, especially for narcotics, but we didn’t over-engineer it. In a word, it’s “practical.”
The second problem we fixed was how easy it was in a normal workflow for a nurse to get to the right dose. If you make a process too stringent, people will find a work-around, or they’ll hate the system. That’s no good for the facility or the pharmacy. So with NexsysADC we simplified how nurses get to the exact dose they need, instead of putting up too many barriers.
CT: NexsysADC is a new product. How has feedback been?
Miller: It’s what pharmacies and their customers wanted in price and features. The pharmacies are impressed by how much value they’re getting from NexsysADC, compared to the bigger, older ADC platforms. It helps them stretch their technology budget much further.
CT: “Technology paralysis” is a real thing, where pharmacy operators see the value of a new system, but can’t get off the fence. What’s your advice?
Miller: Honestly analyze what your pharmacy spends (or wastes) every single week to do stat runs, especially if your customers are more than 15 minutes away from the pharmacy. How much is it costing you to get meds out there outside of the normal run? How much time is wasted on missed billings? How many hours do you need to devote an employee to managing stat doses? You’ll reduce those costs immediately with NexsysADC — your business will run more smoothly, and your customer will be thrilled with your level of service. ROI is easily obtained within a few months in hard dollars, on top of the soft benefits like customer retention and better control of your inventory. CT