Technology Enhances Safety & Efficiency in the Pharmacy

Central City Concern’s Old Town Clinic (located in Portland, Oregon) meets the pharmaceutical needs of nearly 4,000 low income individuals. Over the last few years, it has grown from filling 200 prescriptions per day to 500 (and it is predicted this could increase to 1,000 scripts per day in the coming year).

Two generous gifts have helped the Old Town Clinic expand and enhance its services:  a $300,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation’s Mitzvah Fund and an IntelliCab System from GSL Solutions, Inc.

The IntelliCab System was Born

GSL Solutions, Inc. (GSL stands for Global Script Locator) is a company that was founded by pharmacist Shelton Louie and engineer Steve Garrett. Louie came up with the idea for the IntelliCab System while observing the number system at a dry cleaning business, as well as hearing a presentation at a pharmacy convention. The keynote speaker talked about RFIB (radio-frequency identification) systems, which is comparable to a GPS style of locating.

Garrett’s specialized background was able to transform Louie’s vision into a technological reality. The IntelliCab was created to replace the conventional system of prescriptions stored in alphabetical order on shelves. “Problems plagued this system,” describes a Central City Concern article from February 11, 2014. “Patients can have the same names, patients can’t remember when they brought the prescription in and medications get put in the wrong bins. Not only do such problems create long waiting times for patients and inefficiencies in workflow, but they pose the potentially life-threatening danger of the wrong medication being dispensed.”

IntelliCab in Action

In addition to outpatient and community settings, the IntelliCab System is being used by retail and military pharmacies within the U.S. and beyond, including the 6th Medical Group at the MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. There pharmacy technicians scan the identification card of the patient picking up their prescription. This prompts the IntelliCab System to light up the bin where the prescription is contained. The pharmacy tech must also swipe their own badge or else an alarm will sound if someone attempts to access the prescriptions without authorization.

According to DVIDS journalist Senior Airman Michael Ellis, not only does the system enhance security and patient safety; it also saves time—600 prescriptions can be processed within 15 minutes by one pharmacy employee—which improves customer service.

“With the previous antiquated ‘brown bagging’ procedures mental fatigue was common, as technicians would visually and physically scan rows with hundreds of bagged prescriptions sorted by patients’ last name and last few digits of their social security number…” reported Ellis. “The Global Script Locator system has already more than made up for its incurred cost by increasing efficiency and reducing patient hand out errors (rated the most frequent operator error in pharmacy services). Ultimately, this new innovative addition has increased patient safety.”