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RFID Technology Lights Up Prescription Will-Call System

Drugco Discount Pharmacy has deployed a system from Suncrest Solutions and EZ-RFID that includes a light stick stored with each prescription order, which illuminates for drugstore employees to make the search for a particular order fast and easy.
By Claire Swedberg

Traditionally, Huggins says, those employees would identify a patient, including his or her last name, then proceed to an alphabetic bin storage system to seek the right prescription for that individual. This could mean sifting through 30 bags or more before finding the right one. In the meantime, the customer must simply wait.

With the new system using RFID technology, the company reports, the process is now faster. First, a patient brings in a prescription, which is entered into the system via the HangRX software, interfacing with the pharmacy-management software. The individual's name, health record and insurance information are then paired to that order.

Once a prescription is filled, an employee chooses an empty bag, which comes with a p-link light stick with a built-in UHF RFID tag.
Once the prescription is filled, a staff member takes an empty bag, which comes with a p-link light stick with a built-in UHF RFID tag. The light stick is linked in the software to the bar-code number affixed to the bag's front. As the prescription is placed in the bag, the employee scans the bar code, which forwards that data to the software, thereby storing the prescription with the bag ID. "At that point," Larsen says, "they don't have to alphabetized. They just hang up the bag."

Upon arriving to pick up an order, a customer provides his or her name and birthdate. The employee uses the HangRx software to input that person's name and view the prescription, then presses a prompt for the light stick to illuminate.

A desktop UHF RFID reader from EZ-RFID, cabled to the computer, transmits to that light stick, instructing it to illuminate. Six different colors can be connected to that request as well, so it could illuminate green for one employee, but blue for another, based on who makes the request—for instance, the worker manning the drive-through window could prompt only blue lights. The employee then walks to the clear bag containing the illuminated stick (it shines on both sides to ensure that it can be easily seen) and retrieves it.

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