GTT Notes for October, 2017 ScripTalk with Shoppers Drugmart

Ian opened the meeting. Brian Mok is the evening’s guest, along with Natalie Ternamian. They are here to share information about the work Shoppers Drugmart is doing to make prescription labelling accessible.

Natalie took over. She’s a 4th year pharmacy student working with Shoppers Drugmart. She asked what kind of trouble members have had in filling prescriptions. Responses were about getting information. Natalie pointed out that an aging population will require more prescriptions, and identifying each bottle of pills is difficult. Their technology solution is hoping to remedy this problem. The first solution to discuss is called ScripTalk. Placing a vial of pills over the mechanism will cause the unit to read directions, medication name and dosage. The bottle has an RFID tag which is read by the machine. She demonstrated the unit. It read the patient’s name, the medication, the instructions, how many pills were in the bottle when it was new, prescription date, best before date, number of refills, doctor’s name, the prescription number, relevant warnings, and a phone number to call for more information. To sign up, you have to register at your local pharmacy. A member contributed that he asked at his location, and his pharmacist had never heard of it. Brian said that signage exists in all stores, and all pharmacists should know about it, but information may not have entirely defused yet. The member asked if something could be done to increase information dissemination. Brian didn’t have a direct answer as that’s not his department, but offered to try to create bridges so that Brian could connect one of us with the right people. Brian said he just saw a memo go out to everyone a few days ago, so hopefully the information is getting to where it needs to be. Brian said the most important step would be to speak to the owner of the store in question if the pharmacist on duty doesn’t know about it. If not the franchise owner, then the pharmacy manager.

A member asked Natalie and Brian to walk through the sign-up process. Brian said it does take some time. It’s managed by a third party company called Envision America, and agreements have to be signed. You have to agree for your medical information to be released to the third party who manages the technology. Even once you’re set up, there’s a two-day turn-around because the third party has to make up the RFID tag and send it to the store. In theory you should be able to phone in your prescription and come in two days later so that you only have to make one trip. You would have to advocate each time to make sure the RFID tag is made, and put in place. The set-up process should take no more than a few days.

The first step is a New Patient Enrolment form which the pharmacist will help you complete. The form is faxed to the third-party company. The store orders the reader unit which you receive at no charge. It takes a week to ten days to get the machine. A member raised the question of whether the pharmacist verifies that the RFID tag is correct. Brian answered that not every store has a machine they can use to verify. The third-party company does put a printed tag with the RFID tag. You can have tagged prescriptions delivered the same as standard prescriptions. The unit is rented from Envision America by the pharmacy then lent to the customer. It’s valued at around $300. A member asked if the forms could be made available electronically so that we can read the consents and liabilities ourselves.

The ScripTalk takes two double A batteries, and has a power supply and headphones. It also comes with a CD with the manual. It’s possible to adjust the reading speed.

Natalie then introduced Talking RX. It’s a device you snap onto the vial, on which a voice recording can be made giving the relevant information. Placing the vial with the attachment, onto the base unit, will cause the recording to be played. This solution solves the problem of a prescription you can’t wait two days to fill. These units must be ordered into the store. You might consider approaching your local store to let them know you’d like them to have one, so it’s in place if/when you need it. Another advantage of the Talking RX is that the information can be recorded in other languages. It takes small medical type batteries, and has a power supply also. It doesn’t have a headphone. A member asked whether the Talking RX could be used for over-the-counter meds as well, and Brian said he thought so. In general the Talking RX is for acute medications. The ScripTalk is better for the long-term.

A member asked whether prescriptions might ever have bar codes, but Brian answered that pharmacy is a notoriously slow-moving industry.

No proof of vision loss is required in order to receive the technology.

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