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6/27/2013 Clinic adds new pharmaceutical dispensing machine

The Community Clinic in Westcliffe has a new addition. Instead of being prescribed medicine and having to go to Pueblo or some other distant city to pick them up, patients can now leave the Clinic with their medication in hand.

 It is called an Automated Physician Direct Dispensary, brought here by Instymeds from Eden Prairie, Minn.

 “It’s like an airport kiosk,” Gregor Hoffman, Clinical Specialist for Instymeds, said. “A doctor will hand you a code, like a carwash code, and you go up to the dispensary and type it in.”

 After that, the medicine will come out in professional bottles with traditional labels. If a patient is given a prescription with three refills, the bottle rolled out by the Instymeds machine will have all of the needed medicine already inside so that refills won’t be necessary.

 The dispensary will not have any refrigerated medications. If a medicine is about to expire, they will be pulled a month beforehand and replaced.

 The clinic will charge a $10 usage fee, which they feel will cover the expenses of operating the dispensary.

 There is a phone on the machine that is always connected to a pharmacy technician in case a patient has any questions. Hoffman said that most questions patients call in for are about insurance.

 Hoffman explained that insurance will be billed automatically as patients pick up their meds from the machine. Another nice thing about it, he said, is that if you also have questions about the medicine you’re picking up, the pharmacy technician can transfer you to a pharmacist. The pharmacist will have your chart in front of them so they can help give you the answers you’re looking for.

 “There is no element of error,” David Noble said.

 There are almost two million medicine dispensaries from Instymeds in use right now, with only 200 in the U.S. The dispensary has a triple bar code system that double checks its prescribed pill content.

 After a patient puts in the code that the doctor hands them, verifying their identity with their birthday, the dispensary gives them their medicine. The dispensary will also print out a receipt.

 “The dispensary will hold 88 different medicines,” Nobel informed. “There will be two types available, though; medicine for acute conditions and medicine for chronic conditions.”

 Noble explained that many patients are given the same prescriptions.

 “We are the only game in town,” Noble said. “So we want to make sure we can give [patients] as much care as possible.”

 The machine keeps track of its inventory by running scans. It will also recalibrate on its own. When it needs to be restocked, clinic professionals will do it. Only those with a pharmacy, medical or nursing license are permitted to handle the medicine or get inside of the machine.

 The dispensary also has a backup battery, and a hidden security camera.

 “Drug seekers would need power tools to get in,” Hoffman laughed, expressing that the machine is very secure.

 If a patient’s prescription ends, Hoffman said they just need to call their doctor for a new one. The doctor will have to send it into the clinic, and then the medicine will be ready for pickup from there.

 No one from out of town will be able to use the dispensary. It will only be open to patients who have previously seen a doctor at the clinic.

 This week the clinic is holding volunteer training sessions. These people will help patients use the machine, guiding them through the process until they are comfortable to do it themselves. The first of three sessions, with Gregor Hoffman, was on June 24.

 The Instymeds medicine dispensary will be available for patient use starting next week.  -J.E. Ward