Will-Call Technology: An Extra Step for Patient Safety

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Nicole Noel, Pharm.D., is director of Purdue University Pharmacy, in West Lafayette, Ind. The pharmacy served as a pilot location for scripClip automated will-call system by PerceptiMed, and found improvements in retrieval time and safety. Her staff can’t imagine going back to a manual will-call system.

ComputerTalk: Tell us a little about Purdue University Pharmacy.

Nicole Noel: As part of a teaching university our mission is twofold: one, to meet the prescription and other healthcare needs of the student; and second, to serve as a learning lab for pharmacy students attending the university. The pharmacy is an apothecary type, having a small front end that stocks mostly OTC (over-the-counter) and other healthcare-related items. We have a big focus on providing clinical services such as helping with OTC recommendation and medication counseling, and we have an active smoking cessation program.

CT: Briefly, what is scripClip?

Noel: Sure, scripClip is a unique combination of hardware and software. When we fill a prescription, we put it in a special clear plastic hanging bag with an LED light built into the handle. Because the bag flashes a distinct color for each patient, the bags can be placed on the hanger in random order. Patients give the clerk their name, phone number, or student I.D. The information is typed into the system and the patient’s bag — or bags — light up. The clerk picks up the flashing bag, and the system confirms the right medication is given to the right patient. It is simple, fast, and accurate and required no changes in the pharmacy other than switching out our old bags for the new ones.

CT: Could you please describe your will-call situation before implementing an automated will-call location system?  

Read about how Alan Jacobs, M.D., founder of PerceptiMed, got the idea for scripClip
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Measuring Labor Savings Will-Call Automation

Noel: Our will-called bags were organized into bins and alphabetized by the first letter of the last name. We have, at any time, 150 to 225 prescriptions ready for pickup. Due to our international population and language barriers with patients, we had instances in the past in which errors were occurring due to similar-sounding names or lookalike names.

“The ScripClip system eliminates the potential for incorrect packages being sold to patients,” says Nicole Noel.

CT: What were you looking for in an automated will-call system — labor savings, better safety, better customer experience?

Noel: Our main goal for utilizing the scripClip automated will-call system was to improve the customer experience. The primary goal was to eliminate any dispensing errors or near misses at the out window. Secondary goals included decreasing patients’ wait time during bag retrieval, reducing the time it takes to locate a misfiled prescription bag, and ensuring the patients were leaving with all their medications in the instance they were bagged separately.

CT: In what areas of will-call operations have you seen improvements? Single bag retrievals, multiple package retrievals, return to stock, misfiled bags?

Noel: With scripClip we have seen improvements in single bag retrievals and elimination of the incorrect package being sold to a patient. We have also experienced a decrease in time to retrieve bags, especially when the bags have been misfiled.

CT: Do you see a less-stressed staff, since they no longer have to spend time performing the tedious operation of filing alphabetically or numerically?

Noel: My staff has enjoyed the switch to scripClip. We can’t imagine going back to a nonautomated will-call system.

CT: Did you experience any tradeoffs in adding a will-call package retrieval system to your workflow? Is the packaging step longer when using an electronic system?

Noel: While it can be viewed as an extra step in the workflow system, I simply view the packaging step as an extra step for patient safety. The packaging step is integrated into workflow, and it becomes second nature very quickly. CT