|Vandhana Rai is a locum pharmacist with the Esplamed Pharmacy in Durban. But for
the team with whom she works maybe it would not be too far wrong to say she's a
Godsend! Vandhana's task is to process prescriptions electronically for the
dispensing of at least 1,500 chronic medication prescriptions daily, for
distribution to over 141 service points and a total of some 15,000 – 18,000
patients throughout the greater eThekwini area.
Faced with the very real possibility of closure in 1999, Esplamed Pharmacy Manager Terry Ryan presented at a crucial meeting statistics of their dispensing. His figures, which even then were impressive, led to a turn around and saw the combining of three pharmacies which at that time shared similar responsibilities – the distribution of medicines, and particularly for chronic prescriptions, to old age homes, psychiatric institutions, places of safety, departmental and provincial clinics, and hospitals.
Cyril Shabalala, then Manager of KZN Pharmaceutical Systems Development, and staff members Peter Avery and David Gooden gave support and encouragement as the newly empowered Esplamed Pharmacy got going. With increasing demand, however, they needed a more effective dispensing method and found it in REMED CHRONIC DISPENSING PROGRAMME, sourced and installed under the guidance of Dave in June 2008. RCHDP is a product of CHILLISOFT, a local IT development company based in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal. Their staff have proved helpful, efficient and supportive in the process of seeing REMED implemented and take off.
From the beginning there was recognition that there needed to be a server with
capacity to ultimately link directly to the various hospitals and service
points. REMED has this possibility. Presently the functioning of REMED sees the
computer capture of patient data directly from the repeat prescription (pink)
cards from the various service points – Vandhana's task.
|Labels for repeat prescriptions are then printed using a thermal transfer printer, and the teams of pharmacists and pharmacy assistants make up the prescriptions. Initial hesitancy over the possibility of errors has given way to enthusiasm and the confidence that each prescription is checked three times – by Vandhana as she captures the data, by the pharmacy assistant who compiles the prescription and then by the pharmacist responsible for its final release. In this way potential errors and duplicates have been detected and avoided.|
There were certainly some hiccoughs in the initial stages, when the programme
launched in June 2008. But there was perseverance – by Terry who was living
daily with the teething problems and those who were attempting to overcome them,
by IT technician Sasha from Gijima, and by Dave who felt the responsibility of
having promoted REMED initially. In May 2009 Vandhana arrived and was appointed
to run with the REMED programme. She quickly made it her own – mastering the
programme and working with patience and cheerfulness through the various stages
of getting it all together! Terry is enthusiastic about his staff, and it is
evident from the outset that this is a man who has given his life to his work.
A year after the installation of REMED Terry's dispensing statistics are still impressive – over 141 service points are supplied, the average price per script has been kept to a mere R56.80, 15000 – 18000 patients are recorded on the data base, and a minimum of 1,500 scripts are dispensed and distributed daily! This is all managed from the modest but comprehensively stocked premises of Esplamed, 1 Cato Street, Durban.
In a day when many provincial departments are challenged in a variety of ways, it's good to hear of a success story and the champions who have worked together to see it realized.
REMED CHRONIC DISPENSING PROGRAMME is web-based, and designed by pharmacists
from Pharmaceutical System Development. Its principal criteria are speed and
reliability, with a database which can be loaded onto the institution’s file
servers and can thus accommodate multiple users. Both thermal transfer printing
or standard A4 laser label printing are available. Other features include the
setting up of medicine groups with commonly used regimens grouped for rapid
dispensing of for example ARVs, patient “search” functions, “queued
prescription” functioning allowing for clinic filter and date range
specifications, together with password access control and audit reports. REMED
back-up support features a Service Level Agreement with the developers, with a
response time of a maximum of 24 hours in most instances for queries or
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