How Do You Improve Patient Safety Worldwide? With Intelligence and Zero-Miss Barcode Reading Automation.
Patient safety ranks as one of the most critical healthcare goals. Patient safety includes anything from collecting information to administering the right medication. So many factors contribute to the daily battle for healthcare professionals. Fortunately, ZiuZ Medical has placed the identification and validation of automatically dispensed medication in the “certified and mastered” column worldwide.
ZiuZ Medical, a global visual intelligence company based out of the Netherlands, set out to help pharmacies. By using automatic dose dispensing systems to assemble and package patient medications Ziuz hoped to save time and reduce errors. Once a pill leaves a bottle, it also loses its identity. As staff members hand medications off, they may not remember what it is–especially when many pills look so similar.
Automatic dose dispensing comes to the rescue with the ability to individually package pills together. This automation is so precise that only the medicines intended for a specific patient get delivered to that patient. But what happens if during that automation process the wrong pills get placed into the package? Using 13 parameters, near-infrared (NIR) image analysis technologies, and intelligent algorithms, ZiuZ identifies each pill or capsule within each bag. The automation process runs at a rate of 6 inches per second giving each medication pack an approval or rejection and ensuring only the correct medication is ever placed in each bag.
Getting a Grip on Quality
One of the crucial elements for patient safety is dispensing the right drugs every time no matter what. Each patient has unique needs, making the treatment process varied and complicated. Ensuring that patients get the correct dosage of the correct drug is vital. Errors can be fatal.
In a study titled, “Medication errors: the importance of safe dispensing,” published by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, the author identifies the most common causes of dispensing errors. The list includes: being busy, being short-staffed, being subject to time-constraints, fatigue of healthcare providers, interruptions during dispensing, and look-alike/sound-alike medicines (1).
Automatic dose dispensing and dispensing machines have been recommended as one potential mechanism to improve efficiency and patient safety. Many hospitals around the world use them in their internal pharmacies(2). These machines enhance the efficiency of medication distribution, but their capacity to reduce medication errors remains controversial and depends on many factors. In answer to quality concerns, ZiuZ Medical created an intelligent solution incorporating the best image-based barcode scanning software from Code Corporation®. A patient’s life can hinge on having a solution that automatically verifies the contents of each pill pack. Ensuring it contains the correct medication before it reaches the patient constitutes a healthcare win from any perspective.
Testing, Testing, 1 2 3
ZiuZ set out to find a way to easily identify each pill within every given medication pack assembled. They needed to compare that information with what should be located inside each package and immediately identify errors. This process required including difficult medicines and capsules and situations with broken pills or crumbs.
The ZiuZ intelligent system started with a detailed photograph of the transparent side of each bag. This showed the contents of the pouch, but it needed the ability to reliably scan and decode the 2D barcode. The barcode contains the details of what items should be found inside. This part played a crucial role. Without it, their technology would not be able to perform the verification/comparison to deliver a “match or error” result. ZiuZ needed to find an enterprise-grade, high-performing scanning solution that would scan the 2D barcode without fail. And it had to scan on the reflective surface of the bag. For most scanning software, this proved challenging. Then ZiuZ discovered CortexDecoder®.
In healthcare, as in a lot of industries, time is a valuable resource. However, unlike most businesses, in healthcare, time is more than money. Life and death decisions are made in seconds. The right scanning solution would make checking packs of medication fast and accurate while reinforcing a superior product reputation. ZiuZ turned to Code Corporation, integrating CortexDecoder into the med pack checking device. The result? CortexDecoder delivered a scanning experience that exceeded all of ZiuZ’ expectations.
Prior to finding Code, ZiuZ Medical used a decoder that had an error rate of .05%.
Prior to CortexDecoder, 1 in every 200 barcodes misread the barcode. Potential for dispensing the wrong medication could have catastrophic consequences, an unacceptable result for ZiuZ. They continued searching for a decoding algorithm that met their demands. The decoding software ZiuZ needed had to deliver on three essential things:
- The error read rate needed to be as close to zero as possible
- It needed to be able to read 2D barcodes moving at a speed of approximately 6 inches per second
- It had to flawlessly decode from the reflective surface of the shiny, thin foil packs that could wrinkle and compromise the barcode readability
Finding a barcode decoder algorithm to meet these exacting requirements seemed, at times, a nearly impossible task. ZiuZ tested several decoding platforms. Unfortunately, each one came with an issue that impeded their ability to function up to the standards. They knew their specifications were challenging, but they also believed the solution existed.
After investigating additional platforms, doubts began to filter into ZiuZ. But the benefits of their system and its ability to provide life-saving care to patients kept them searching. Ultimately they came upon Code. They were impressed with the power and versatility of CortexDecoder. A simple test drive of the enterprise SDK was all it took to move ZiuZ forward.
Enterprise Barcode Scanning Software Solution: CortexDecoder
The performance of CortexDecoder exceeded every one of ZiuZ' expectations.
CortexDecoder was able to scan thousands of barcodes before even one could be identified as an error.
The 2D barcode printed on the back of the packets holds the information of which pills and how many are supposed to be in every pack. That information needs to match the photograph that the machine takes of the transparent side of the bag. These dispensing machines only have one chance to read each barcode that zooms by. CortexDecoder reads these barcodes with near zero-miss reliability, allowing the verification process to happen quickly and accurately. ZiuZ Medical found that integrating CortexDecoder into their system made their machines more efficient. CortexDecoder helped ZiuZ move closer to improving patient safety worldwide.
“CortexDecoder provides the scan performance we have been looking for,” says Johan van Duijne, Product Manager for ZiuZ Medical. “Not only did the decoder perform better in our machines than we expected, but the customer support provided by Code made choosing their decoder even easier.”
Decoding in Action
For OEM manufacturers looking to integrate enterprise-grade barcode scanning into their operations, CortexDecoder improves both your efficiency and accuracy. CortexDecoder provides high performance and works on any platform or operating system. It provides you with results that will make you wonder why you didn’t make the move sooner.
By pairing CortexDecoder with the latest imaging technologies, you can deliver a market-leading product. You'll provide your customers with true enterprise-grade barcode scanning capabilities and near zero-miss performance even on damaged barcodes.
- Cheung, Ka-Chun, Marcel L Bouvy, and Peter A G M De Smet. “Medication Errors: The Importance of Safe Dispensing.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology6 (2009): 676–680. PMC. Web. 12 July 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2723208/
- Guidance on the interdisciplinary safe use of automated dispensing cabinetsHorsham (PA)Institute for Safe Medication Practices; 2008. Available from: http://www.ismp.org/Tools/guidelines/ADC_Guidelines_Final.pdf