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Mercy unveils new pharmacy technology at Pleasanton

01-Jul-2008: It is now quicker and easier than ever for many area residents to refill their medication prescriptions.
Jay Allen, a primary care physician with the Pleasanton Family Practice, recently announced the addition of new, cutting edge technology that will provide patients at the clinic with added access and convenience when filling their prescriptions.

"It will definitely be more convenient for the patient," Allen said. "I think the story is that we're bringing this new technology to a small town. In many cases, in terms of technology, I think small towns beat big cities to the punch."

With the new InstyMeds electronic medication dispensing machine, patients receive their medication at the point of care, rather than spending time traveling to and from a pharmacy. Sometimes, access to pharmacy services is particularly difficult for patients who run into transportation barriers, and during evenings, weekends, and holidays, a statement from the clinic said.

The Pleasanton Family Practice is the first physicians office in Kansas to offer InstyMeds. With the new system, patients are able to purchase basic acute-care medications directly from the lobby of the clinic.

The instant medication machine looks similar to a vending machine, and works much like a common procedure in which patients have a prescription filled at a retail pharmacy. To use the machine, patients need to have their prescription benefits card, as well as a credit card, debit card, or cash for the co-payment.

"This machine is intended to offer patients a convenient alternative for filling their prescriptions, especially for patients that we serve after normal pharmacy hours, so they don't have to travel for the most common prescribed medications," Allen said.

Patients use a three-step process when refilling a prescription using the machine; the patient enters an access code he or she is given to order the medication, followed by the patient's date of birth, and then the patient pays for the medications, which are received through a slot on the front of the machine within just a few minutes, InstyMeds Implementation Manager Lori Reddemann said.

"The customers love it," Reddemann said.

After the patient enters his or her personal information, the patient's physician verifies the prescription via a computer after it is verified and sent by the InstyMeds machine, which then labels the bottle and dispenses the medication.

As part of meeting patient needs, the Pleasanton Family Practice clinic has continued to expand its hours, and is now open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week.

"With the influx of people moving to Linn County, the need for after-hours care and on the weekends has likewise increased," Rhonda Kellstadt, an advanced registered nurse practitioner with the clinic, said. "Minor illnesses and emergencies don't always occur during a nine to five timetable, so we have increased our hours of operation to meet these needs. The InstyMed dispenser is the logical next step in fulfilling patient needs."

The machine is always stocked with 40 to 60 of the most common prescriptions produced by acute care visits. Allen and fellow physician John Spencer, along with Kellstadt, will order prescriptions electronically.

InstyMeds also verifies insurance coverage for patients and accommodates self-paying customers. The company also processes insurance claims much like a pharmacy does, Reddemann said.

Patient support is available through a licensed pharmacist 24 hours a day via a telephone mounted on the front of the machine.

"Patients will have their correct medication within three to five minutes, and it will have been verified three times to ensure they are receiving the right medication and dosage," Allen said. "This will keep patients close to home without having to travel in some instances up to 60 miles to fill a prescription."

The Minneapolis, Minn.-based InstyMeds company, which began introducing the electronic medication dispensers about six years ago, now has nearly 100 machines operating in several health care clinics nationwide, Reddemann said.

Pleasanton Family Practice is one of three rural health clinics in Southeast Kansas operated by Mercy Health System of Kansas.

Source: Fort Scott Tribune

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