How Autodispens saves time?

How does Autodispens save you time?

The design philosophy behind Autodispens has always been to save time for the user in the chores of day-to-day dispensing.  In this resume, some of the time saving features of Autodispens are discussed.

° ‘One potato, two potato, three potato, four …’

In some systems, there is a set regime that is employed when dispensing items from a prescription. The Patient details are entered, together with the number of items on the script. The user then selects the appropriate items, generating the labels accordingly. When everything is operating ideally, this makes for rapid dispensing. But what happens when things go wrong? Suppose the user enters the wrong number of items, or one of the items is not available. Suppose you need to work on another urgent script and have to stop in mid script. Now this fixed regime becomes tedious. With Autodispens, the dispensing regime is flexible. In a normal script, the computer progresses logically through the script processing sequence, but the user is free to go back or forwards in this sequence to change details.

° ‘A stitch in time saves nine’

With other systems, user operation is slowed down due to the heavy time penalty of making mistakes. With Autodispens, this is not the case. At any stage of script processing, the user can press the backspace key and go back to the last step, and correct his mistake. The fact that mistakes can be corrected at the press of a button means that the user can operate the system at higher speed.

° ‘Was that 21 tablets, or 22?’

At the heart of the Autodispens system lies the interface to the laboratory standard electronic balance. When the user selects a drug on the computer, the scale is automatically programmed to count those tablets. This form of counting has several advantages over existing systems. It is quicker, more accurate, and less messy than optical tablet counting machines (which also require extensive cleaning, and fail to count translucent capsules!), and faster than manual sample based counting machines, where a sample of five tablets has to be counted each time.

The good thing is that the functionality of the scale does not stop at tablet and capsule counting. The split pack function for antibiotic powders allows you to reconstitute part packs, saving the rest of the powder for subsequent scripts. The 1992 models are now OIML/Weights and Measures approved so they can be used instead of the cumbersome pendulum type balances. They can even be used to count money!

° ‘l can read your mind’

The single largest hurdle in the field of high volume dispensing can be summarised in the following scenario. An experienced pharmacist who has been using a computer system for some time knows exactly what information he requires from the computer. What he is upset about is that it just takes him a long time to impart this information to the computer due to the poor quality of the user interface. This is where Autodispens really scores. The search-as-you-type routines that are used in various aspects of the system utilise the dead time that occurs while you are typing in your selection into the computer. What happens is that the system searches the database in between your key presses, and as you supply more information the computer is able to narrow down the number of items that you might be referring to. Various rule-based algorithms, and a sophisticated learning algorithm mean that the computer is able to make an intelligent guess as to which drug you might be after. As soon as this highlighted drug conforms to the drug you were expecting, you can stop typing and press the Enter key. This system means that in 95% of cases, the computer has found the drug you want by the time you have pressed Enter.

° ‘Details, details : don’t bother me with details’

There are certain underlying consistencies that are apparent when entering the quantity and directions for a certain drug. For instance, the quantity of a drug must intuitively be a number. Directions tend to conform to the pattern of some dose being taken at some regular interval. The context sensitivity of Autodispens’ quantity and direction entry systems allows you to enter details in a manner that is independent of the drug that you are currently working on. For examples, keying 100 in the quantity field yields l00Ml on the label if the drug is a liquid. The same instruction 13 produces the following directions for the following

Amoxil capsules ‘One to be taken three times a day’

Amoxil suspension ‘Shake the bottle and take One 5ml spoonful three times a day’

Ventolin Inhaler  ‘Take one puff three times a day’

This context sensitivity, together with the common sense nature of the code system, means that you can deliver the gist of the directions to the computer, and let it do the rest of the work.

° ‘Work a little with me here won’t you’

Autodispens provides a number of features that are invoked automatically while dispensing to save you time and effort :

1. Automatic entry of quantity where appropriate.

2. Automatic context sensitive directions if you do not key in any directions.

3. Automatic British National Formulary and context sensitive warnings.

4. Automatic item placement on order list.

5. Automatic calculation of optimum container size to save fiddling about with
several containers and trying to guess which is the smallest one that will hold all the tablets.

6. Automatic ‘Delta-trac’ function to provide visual confirmation that the right
number of tablets have been dispensed.

7. Automatic dilution field, reminds you how much water should be added to
antibiotic powders to reconstitute the desired amount.

8. Automatic retention of last surname if no surname is entered.

Now each of these features in itself may only represent a very small time saving feature, but when they are considered in the context of the system as a whole, they all help to minimise the amount of time taken to dispense a script.

° ‘And that’s not all folks’

Autodispens is a complete pharmacy computerisation system. Several additional modules have been incorporated into the system to save the pharmacist time at the end of the day. The Cashing-up module allows the user to cash up till float at the end of the day in a quick and accurate manner. The totals from the tally sheet can be transferred into the dedicated spreadsheet module which can be used to produce weekly audit sheets for the accountant. There is also an alarm reminder feature with 10 programmable alarms to remind you to place orders etc. before certain deadlines. The notepad feature can be used to jot down notes, or even to write short letters. The beauty of all of these modules is that they can be entered in mid-script. You can then do as much as you like, and return to your script at the press of a key. This means that some tasks that would ordinarily require quite long periods of the pharmacist’s time can be done in the ‘dead-time’ between scripts. We at Pal systems know just how useful this dead-time can be as some of our best ideas and developments have come mid-script!

0 What? Even more speed ‘?!‘?!!

Autodispens is a pharmacy system that doesn’t stand still. Nor does Pal systems. In our development plan, we have a number of new features that will permit even faster dispensing. These concepts will take fruition in Autodispens-AT, a new multi-user version of the system which is currently under development.

A quote from a pharmacist working part time at Pal Chemists,
and using other systems during Locum work.

“It’s strange that after having used this (Autodispens) system, going back to the systems that I am familiar with seems so tedious. It just seems like too much hard work.”


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