London, UK. Pharmacy Plus has chosen rugged mobile devices from Psion PLC to deploy a new Electronic Transport Management System (ETMS) that will improve the way they manage the collection and delivery of drugs. The new system will ensure that drugs are always delivered when and where they are needed to care home residents that have an important medical requirement.
Pharmacy Plus is based in Bristol and has been a pioneer of pharmaceutical innovation since it was established in 1994. During the last few years, they have created an unparalleled model of service delivery specifically for care homes, which involves the management of prescriptions from the point of ordering and dispensing to the point of supply, using sophisticated IT systems.
Tariq Muhammad, Managing Director of Pharmacy Plus, said: "At Pharmacy Plus, we aim to offer a service which is based on quality, safety and efficiency. Our business has grown rapidly and we now provide services to over 800 surgeries and 400 care homes. In a typical month, we process over 100,000 prescriptions and handle 200,000 medication packets, so an efficient foolproof system is a must.
"Most pharmacies make collections and deliveries using manual paper-based systems. However these are not without their challenges. For example, if a prescription goes missing, as they sometimes do, it is very hard to trace where it has gone and this causes inconvenience to surgeries, care homes and not least the patient who is affected by any delays."
John McMeeking, Managing Director, Psion UK, said: "Our relationship with Pharmacy Plus is further evidence of our commitment to delivering ingenious solutions for our partners and customers. We believe that their groundbreaking drug collection and delivery technology is a striking example of how our devices can be used to help real people live their lives' in a more effective way."
The new Electronic Transport Management System improves the way Pharmacy Plus staff liaise with GPs surgeries as well as manage the collection and delivery of drugs to care homes. Each Pharmacy Plus delivery driver receives a Psion Ikon rugged handheld computer running the ETMS. The Psion Ikon resembles a large mobile phone and has a touch screen, barcode scanner, camera, SIM card and GPS as well a range of other features.
The new ETMS will enable Pharmacy Plus to deliver a number of benefits for doctors' surgeries, care homes and the company's delivery drivers.
For doctors' surgeries, there will be a near elimination of lost or misdirected prescriptions, which will reduce the pressure on GPs and surgery managers to reissue scripts. The ETMS will also ensure the security of prescription related documentation. In the future, surgery receptionists will provide an electronic signature via the Psion Ikon to confirm the pick-up of patient prescriptions. The devices can also act as a relay point for messages from the surgery to the Pharmacy Plus Customer Services centre.
For the care homes, the ETMS will lead to improved delivery performance with medications being delivered to the right homes and the right time, every time. The system also affords additional flexibility versus manual systems because it will enable drivers to be in constant contact with head office, which will enable them to re-route to pick up urgent drugs so that they can be rushed to care home residents as needed.
Finally, for drivers, the system will prevent drivers from being sent to surgeries that are closed. The Psion Ikon handheld computers also have a tracking device to help locate drivers at any time.
In keeping with couriers in other industries, the ETMS will provide drivers with their daily pick-up and delivery schedule without the need for them to travel into the office saving time, fuel, money and inconvenience. When coupled with the launch of a new fleet of vehicles, equipped with satellite navigation, the ETMS will promote greater driver efficiency.
Separate to the ETMS, Pharmacy Plus vehicles have been fitted with a Dallas Key, which enables the company to download information on driver behaviour (i.e. harsh breaking, excess speeding and fuel consumption) to identify areas for further efficiency.
Tariq Muhammad said: "Without constant change, Pharmacy Plus would not be where it is today. We want to ensure that we are maximising efficiency and providing our support staff and customers with the best technology on offer today. The ETMS running on Psion Ikon devices is tailor-made for our needs and its focus on drug and prescriptions management will take our accountability to a new level. These types of systems do exist in organisations, such as DHL and others, but they have never been deployed in a pharmacy organisation before".