Sunday, January 17, 2010

Filling prescriptions made easy at new electronic Med Centres

From the Ottawa Citizen:
Imagine being at the emergency room at 2 a.m. with your young child, who has an ear infection.

You've been given a prescription for some antibiotics. Instead of waiting for your local pharmacy to open or trying to find one of the few that's open all night, you walk over to a machine that scans the prescription, which starts a two-way video conference with a pharmacist. She gives you instructions and answers your questions, then tells the machine to dispense the medication.

This seems like a vision from the future, but it's a reality soon to arrive in Ontario, thanks to new health-care legislation passed in December. The machines, called Med Centres, exist in trial locations such as the Toronto General Hospital, where they have so far been a success.

Peter Suma, co-founder and president of Patient Care Automation Services, the company that created Med Centres, said the system will bring care to remote places.

"We intuitively think of the obvious benefit to places where there's no health care," Suma said, referring to rural communities far away from pharmacies. But he said the centres will also benefit people who work long hours or split shifts who don't have easy access to a pharmacy when it's open. ...more

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