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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

Although other automated will-call systems can identify prescriptions as they are picked up, Larsen says, they require a higher cost system with illumination built directly into the custom bag handle or cabinets. Using RFID technology in the p-link sticks allows a pharmacy to convert any hang-up bag system to automated light-guided retrieval by downloading the HangRx software and acquiring the light sticks.

The HangRx p-link system is intended to be low-cost and easy to install, Larsen says. The company can set up the software for a user remotely, Larsen explains, and ship that user the light sticks and RFID reader. The user can then attend a GoToMeeting session for training, and start setting up the bags for use in the system.

Suncrest's Jennie Larsen
Before the HangRx p-link system was deployed, Huggins says, it took approximately one or two minutes to find a properly stored prescription, and five to six minutes to locate a misfiled drug bag. With the new technology, it takes only 15 to 45 seconds to complete this task. "That's a very conservative estimate," Huggins adds. While that saves the drugstore the cost of those accumulated labor hours, it also helps with customer satisfaction.

"The whole feel of the process is more organized," Huggins states. "Before, customers were watching us dig through bags to find their order. Now they can see the light," he says, and watch as an employee walks directly to the appropriate bag.

Drugco's Drew Huggins
Because each employee can be assigned his or her own color to illuminate the light sticks, Huggins adds, that makes it easy to differentiate which worker is seeking that item. For instance, he says, there have been times "when I'll be walking by and see a bag light up with a red light, and then just hand the bag to the drive-through person," since he knows that employee uses the red light.

Suncrest and EZ-RFID are working on a clip-on version of the light stick that would also illuminate and use RFID to receive those instructions, but that could be attached to drugs not kept in hanging bags, such as medication stored in refrigerators. Suncrest Solutions is currently preparing for a beta test with a national retail chain to use the technology in the same way.

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