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Barcode Medicine Identification and Automated Dispensing of Drugs

There are more than one million barcodes in the world but a barcode is a rectangular image that consists of parallel lines with differing widths.

Barcode Machine Identification

There are more than one million barcodes in the world but a barcode is a rectangular image that consists of parallel lines with differing widths and lengths. A barcode scanner or mobile camera with a barcode reader can scan barcodes. Products are printed with barcodes that can be used for storing information that can be used to identify them in the future. Keeping track of inventory and invoicing details are common uses of barcodes in retail stores and warehouses. The application of barcodes has made inventory management more efficient. By mapping these barcodes to item codes, products can be identified.

Retailers use barcodes to manage and track inventory, update stock, apply discounts, etc. because they store information regarding the product such as MRP, type, name and company information. In addition to UPC-A, EAN-8, code 39, UPC-E, EAN-13, etc., there are also different types of barcodes. The most commonly used barcodes are UPC and EAN.

Barcodes have the following advantages:
  • Using a barcode rather than a barcode allows for the more precise and convenient processing of data that is entered manually and prone to errors.
  • There is little or no training needed for scanners since they are so easy to use.
  • Improved inventory control - By managing and controlling inventories more accurately, companies are able to achieve higher levels of accuracy.
  • Economically feasible - An economical method of detecting barcodes is to generate them as there is no cost involved and potential savings can be realized immediately.
  • Real time availability - Data is made available in real time as a result of high-speed processing.
Mobile phones equipped with barcode readers or barcode scanners can be used to scan the barcodes. An analogue signal is generated by the sensor in the barcode scanner that detects the reflection from the illumination system (the red light), which is sent to the decoder in the barcode reader. This signal is interpreted by the decoder, and the barcode is validated and converted into text using the check digit. The converted text then enters a computer system that is connected to the decoder. The self/machine learning algorithm, based on this data, then identifies the product. Inventory management is therefore accelerated.

Purchase orders are placed through the system. Products are sent to the reseller by the supplier. Counting is done physically at the reseller store, while entering the number against the product is done electronically by the store manager. In creating a purchase receipt, the manager enters details such as unit of measurement (UOM), quantity, manufacturing date, etc. If all these parameters match those required, the manager accepts the delivery and a purchase receipt is created, and if not, the manager rejects it. Due to the current scenario where the associate manually counts the items, a lot of human error can occur, such as entering the count for smooth and silky as hair fall damage rescue instead. This mismatch results in rejections for products or partial acceptances for supplies because the associate has incorrectly entered the count. Also, stock is updated for the wrong products, which causes tremendous uncertainty from procurement to payments and from order to cash in the distribution realm.

Automated Dispensing of Drugs

As labor costs rise, healthcare services demand increases, pharmacies are being decentralized, and medication errors are on the rise, hospitals are searching for solutions to these issues. One example of pharmacy automation is an automated medication dispensing system. A hospital's automated dispensing system is one of the most important risks because of the inherent human factor for medication and dispensing errors. An auditable record ensures the system is operating correctly. Pharmacy automation markets include more than automatic medication dispensing systems. Pharmacies are investing in automation in many forms, and automation comes in many forms. A wide variety of automated devices are included in the global pharmacy automation market, including tablet counters, automated storage and retrieval systems, automated medication compounding machines, and automated packaging and labeling machines. The automated medication dispensing systems won't solve everything that ails the hospitals, but they are most certainly a valuable component of better medication management.

For purposes of dispensing medications to patients or their agents, an automated packaging and labeling system (APS) performs operations and activities other than compounding and administration. The Auto Dispensing machines (ADMs) or (automated drug cabinets) are computerized devices used in hospitals and nursing homes to store and dispense medications. Patient-centric pharmacies are located in patient areas (wards, ICUs, emergency rooms) rather than in the central pharmacy. Traditional pharmacy delivery systems are outclassed by ADM in several major ways. Pharmaceuticals offered at the point of care are already the ones most frequently prescribed, so there is no need to send them from main pharmacies, which can take time and be labor-intensive.

Nursing staff can therefore spend less time on daily tasks because of this. Safely store controlled substances in a secure lockbox until needed, and protect access to the vault with multi-factor authentication and audit trails to prevent waste and drug theft. In addition, automated dispensing systems simplify the process of charging patients and controlling inventory, significantly reducing "lost charges." Furthermore, the ADM can be used to contribute to patient safety by reducing the risk of adverse drug reactions, identifying interactions between drugs, and advising on high-risk medications (heparin, insulin).
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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