Outpatient Pharmacy Automation Doesn’t Have To Be Complex or Expensive

Busy Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy Gets Busier, Kirby Lester KL1Plus Automation Plays Large Role In The Solution

(Read about Memorial Hospital’s Outpatient Pharmacy and their experience with the Kirby Lester KL1Plus in the ComputerTalk For The Pharmacist Health Systems Buyers Guide

A recent major expansion at Memorial Hospital’s Outpatient Pharmacy (Gulfport, MS) caused a 1-2 punch in terms of workload and ambitious expectations:

  • The pharmacy launched a “meds to beds” prescription discharge program, a convenient service offered to inpatients at time of discharge to leave with needed medications in hand.
  • Following the pharmacy concierge program, the pharmacy began dispensing specialty medications to collaborate with local clinics to improve patient care and help support a comprehensive treatment plan.

These initiatives created additional labor demands for Memorial’s pharmacy team that was already busy filling employee and community scripts. Several successful initiatives and technologies were adopted to support these large-scale expansions. But according to Ashlee Ladner, PharmD and manager of Memorial Outpatient Pharmacy, one of the most impactful cogs in the big wheel of process improvement was the simplest and smallest: Kirby Lester KL1Plus verification-plus-counting device.

Before the expansion at Memorial, Rx filling was manual where staff performed product verification by looking at the patient label and counting manually. The only barcode product verification was by the pharmacist during the final check. At this point, the pharmacist would catch any discrepancies due to the manual filling process and would return the order back for correcting. With Memorial’s pharmacy techs on the KL1Plus, very few mis-fills even get to the pharmacists.

Small Footprint Topped The Automation Must-Have ListMemorial Hospital technician counting pills using a Kirby Lester KL1Plus pill counter.

Ladner could not consider fully automated robotics because the pharmacy was severely space-constrained. The countertop-sized KL1Plus was one of the few options that could fit. As it turns out, the tiny device met all the needs:

  1. Small footprint
  2. Keeps a record of every fill
  3. Scan-verifies 100% of meds including unit-of-use doses
  4. Used for a full-pharmacy inventory count
  5. Alerts strength or quantity mismatch
  6. Fit the budget

Time Savings For Pharmacists And Technicians.

Shannon Canzoneri, PharmD and Pharmacy Coordinator, noted that the Kirby Lester device saves time for both pharmacists and techs. With their daily Rx volume climbing, having the KL1Plus was a practical addition to the workflow and optimized current processes. They use the KL1Plus to NDC-check so they have correct medication selection before entering into the final verification step by the pharmacist. Unique dosage forms (liquids, ointments, creams) also are scan-verified and quantity-checked on the KL1Plus. Rx filling speed became the techs’ favorite feature.

“90-day prescriptions are frequently dispensed with quantities exceeding 180, making the KL1Plus a convenient alternative to hand-counting,” Ladner says. So much so that the staff is requesting a third unit as of this writing.

The KL1Plus Rx Filling Process.

Here is how Memorial Hospital’s outpatient pharmacy management integrated the Kirby Lester KL1Plus into their workflow:

  1. KL1Plus interfaces with Memorial’s dispensing software (PioneerRx).
  2. After prescriptions are adjudicated, KL1Plus is used to process all scripts.
  3. Staff scans the prescription label, then product is verified by scanning the stock bottle.
  4. Upon product verification, KL1Plus prompts user to proceed with fill.
  5. Each fill is recorded for up to 10 years; Rx history is easily retrievable for any discrepancy.
  6. KL1Plus is utilized for inventory counting.

Memorial Hospital technician filling a script using a Kirby Lester KL1Plus pill counter.Where You Can Learn More