The Right Medicine to the Right Patient
Jason and Rekha Handa did not simply start a pharmacy business. They revolutionized it.
The Handas are the owner operators of Burlington-based SmartMeds Pharmacy, with satellite locations throughout Southern Ontario, providing afterhours care and are supported by a 24/7 pharmacy call support. Jason Handa is the Pharmacy Director, earning his Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D) certification in 1996 from The Albany College of Pharmacy. The pharmacy team consists of 81 staff which includes 14 pharmacists, seven registered techs and 60 pharmacy assistants.
Quality and Safety of the Patient
The Handas started their business with a defined goal to constantly improve processes to reduce risk potential and increase safety for their patients, a vision they have seen through. “Information about the package is as important as the package itself,” is an important business philosophy started by FedEx founder Frederick Smith. SmartMeds has applied this philosophy to prescription processing and patient care. Medicine alone is not enough; medicine must be administered correctly, in correct dosages, at the correct time, to the correct patient, with the correct patient conditions, this is where SmartMeds strives on quality.
Seven-time Burlington Post Readers Choice Awards recipients, SmartMeds have taken a truly innovative approach to pharmacy service. From their two businesses (one a retail store with an approved specialty compounding lab, the other, a 12, 600 square foot stand-alone full long-term care pharmacy, a one-of-a-kind structure for pharmacy services), SmartMeds has elevated the standard of pharmaceutical care with exciting, user-friendly, proprietary technological platforms designed specifically for their needs by SmartLink Innovations.
SmartMeds differentiates itself from any other pharmacy with its five point check, where most pharmacies have a two point check. This innovation had created an error rate of 1 in 130,000. Put another way, which means SmartMeds has 99.99999 per cent accuracy. This lends SmartMeds to being experts in the field.
SmartMeds is creating systems to ensure that each and every prescription is filled accurately, efficiently, and clinically correct for their patients. The SmartMeds team is aligning special technology and a transparent philosophy to create a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical experience, which uses checks and balances to constantly evolve its thinking, innovation and risk management with ongoing improvements to its safety and efficiency procedures.
Proprietary, Customizable Technological Platforms
“At SmartMeds, we take pride in our range of pharmacy services, products, information technology, programs and support. The result is more value and peace of mind to the residents, their families, and staff members,” says Handa. “We are building electronic health technology which stream lines access to patient data. We have created a portal to view medication lists that pharmacy generates from its data base, which is the medicine the patient is actually taking. The physician, nurse and all primary care givers have access to the patients profile at the pharmacy (with the patient’s consent) which details the meds they are taking, in what dosages and with what instructions and data is current to the day.”
This technology alone has significant impact on the increase of patient safety. Often, medications are administered by a point-of-care provider, not necessarily someone with a medical background. They may be unfamiliar with the medication or brand name, or could misplace a pill and not know what it was for. The SmartMeds technology allows them to the look up patient’s name and look up every medication on that patients list, what it looks like, what it does and what it was called before it went generic. “This is vital information for front-line caregivers, greatly reducing the risk to patients and making sure they get the correct medication every time.”
For convenience, the platform has a one-step refill application, which tracks who asked for the refill, who received the order, and who filled it. The SmartMeds team also created an ePrescriber for doctors and nurses, which amalgamates the entire patient’s information in one place, information such as the limited use code so Ontario drug benefits can pay for the medication. “Without this code, medications wouldn’t be covered and can be missed on orders sent to pharmacy. In addition, dosage options, list of allergies, kidney functions etc. are listed so they can make the most accurate decision knowing the entire patient history and patient profile of medication at their fingertips.
“This gives medical staff all the information they need so they can interact with the pharmacy in a transparent, efficient and accountable way. And the SmartLink/SmartDoc system helps reduce call backs to the physician and nursing staff for clarification which means better care for the patients,” continues Handa.
SmartMeds is also using an electronic narcotic medication usage tracker which tracks each time a patient takes a narcotic and keeps the counts recorded of who gave and when, and this also helps to reconcile the counts electronically during a nursing/staff shift change to show each narcotic has been accounted for using barcode scanning technology. This keeps the staff accountable and the patient safe.
The idea behind this platform is to create optimum transparency, which leads to safety and risk management. “It provides recurrent support through internal system that manages the work flow and manages the risk of errors,” says Handa. “As part of our philosophy we achieve our goals by being respectful to all people, the patient, the people we collaborate with, and our staff. Accountability, transparency, and accessibility also are in line with our companies’ philosophy. “At SmartMeds, we always strive to do the right thing the right way and patient safety is our utmost concern. If however a human error does occur, we are transparent about keeping online record of the occurrence and its findings. We use this document to find ways to prevent the error from occurring again by looking at our internal policies and procedures or training individuals.”
The College of Pharmacists require that every prescription that comes into a pharmacy must be scanned in and readily retrievable with the copy that the pharmacist has signed. After approximately 6,000 prescriptions a day, you have to have someone standing there scanning there and sorting them somehow. SmartMeds is using a unique system in Ontario called Smart Dispatch, which creates an electronic copy of the prescription process prescription process, so that the prescription and unique signature are all online. Patients and long-term health providers are then made aware that their prescription is being taken care of, and pharmacists cut out the arduous steps of scanning and inputting large amounts of data into a computer at the end of the day.
“We can now have a way to maintain standards within pharmacy operations,” says Handa. “The system allows us to take that data and see which staff may need more training and who is completing the task accurately and efficiently and look at that staff to see how it can improve our procedures.”
All of SmartMeds servers, which host all its data and programs for the pharmacy and SmartLink services are housed at a premium ultra-connected downtown Toronto datacentre and “a dedicated fibre linked secondary datacentre out of the city. This ensures that your data and ours are safe and redundant at any given time. SmartMeds also contracts an IT company called OITC managing which monitors all its networks and servers to function 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.