Prescription processing is a huge operation within the healthcare sector. Every year there are approximately one billion prescription items and payments exceed £9billion in the UK alone. As pressure grows on healthcare providers to process an increasing number of prescriptions, healthcare services must strive to achieve efficiency gains in order to satisfy demand, while also maintaining safe delivery of medicines.
In an attempt to improve labelling processes and reduce errors, new regulatory initiatives are being implemented progressively by healthcare authorities. The EU Falsified Medicines Directive 2011/62/EC will make it mandatory for retail pharmacies to scan every package of prescription-only medicine by 2018. To justify investment in added controls, pharmacies need to consider the benefits of new prescription labelling technology, including:
- Eliminating errors and mistakes – Barcoded labels on prescriptions can be matched against a patient’s electronic health record. This significantly reduces the possibility of providing the wrong tests, administering the wrong medication or worse still, performing an incorrect surgery. It also eliminates the possibility of errors due to ineligible handwriting and fading.
- Increased productivity – Labelling prescriptions with barcodes means they can be scanned rather than manually processed. Having adopted barcodes, Business Authority has been able to process approximately 50% of prescriptions without any user intervention in a single year, saving the time of 1,000 employees that would have been required to process the prescriptions manually had the new technology not been implemented.
- Inventory management – Advanced technology allows organisations to store data in a centralised location, providing real-time information regarding stock levels and inventory location. Not only does this reduce wastage due to lost supplies, but it ensures staff can always retrieve prescription information quickly.
- Outside the hospital – The increasingly widespread use of mobile devices also provides opportunities to improve patient care outside healthcare settings. Patients will be able use their smartphones to scan their medication and ensure they are following the prescription correctly.
Standardisation is also helping to fast track adoption – with both legislators and prominent healthcare organisations recognising the benefits of using GS1 compliant 2D barcodes. Using one type of universal barcode labelling system ensures all healthcare providers will be able to access and process the data. This increased visibility can enhance the entire prescription process, allowing healthcare providers to check that the right medicine is dispensed, to the right patient, by the correct clinician at the right time.
Underpinning all of these benefits is the technology itself. Having the right printers available to staff is essential; deploy the wrong technology and you could end up hindering their productivity. Desktop printers such as the ZD410 and ZD420 are purpose-built for healthcare environments, ensuring they are both easy-to-use and hygienic.
To find out more about how technology can improve prescription labelling and deliver a better service to patients, click here or the button below: