Blister Packaging Yields Patient, Healthcare Benefits: Part III

Taking a deeper dive into Holyoke’s blister card filling process for its single and multi-dose applications.

Holyoke Health Center procures its blister cards from Omnicell, which produces them at its St. Petersburg, FL, facility. Holyoke primarily uses Omnicell’s SureMed+, a seven-day, four-time pass cold-seal, bi-fold card. SureMed Cards are offered in both single-dose and multimed applications. Single dose cards come in 14, 28, 30, 31, 32, 60, 62, and 90-day cavities with four different depths. Multimed cards come in 28, 30, 31, and 35-cavity configurations in varying depths.

The multimed card is made up of two components: a paperboard card and the thermoformed blister tray. The patient and drug information (e.g. patient name, drug name, dosing, administration time, etc.) are printed directly onto the paperboard card on-site at the pharmacy to provide instructions to the patient on which blister cavity contains the right meds for an administration time. Cards may be printed in up to eight colors, utilizing Omnicell-qualified printers.

Cards and blisters are provided separately. Holyoke purchases both custom cards and blisters in quantities of 250/box.

The filling process on the Omnicell VBM 200F includes the following steps:

• Technician prepares patient order and sends it to the VBM 200F.

• Technician places an Omnicell blister into one of the templates into the loading slot on the machine.

• The machine takes the tray into the VBM 200F and the medications are dispensed according to the patient order.

• As medications are dispensed, a vision system photographs the meds that are dispensed prior to placing them into the blister cavity. The machine cross-references each medication based on size, shape and color. After being imaged, the machine funnels the meds into the correct blister cavity.

• After all cavities are filled, the machine sends the filled tray back to the technician.

• The technician scans the RFID-tracked tray to pull up the patient order and images of all the medications filled into the tray. Once the tray is scanned, the printer prints the patient-specific card that corresponds to the filled tray.

• The technician reviews the filling report and addresses any cavities that were flagged by the vision system for potential errors. (e.g. medications that appear to be touching may be flagged by the vision system if it is unable to differentiate the edge of the pill to get an accurate measurement.)

• The technician seals the patient specific card to the blister pack.

The packs are manually sealed using an alignment guide and rubber roller. The machine does not seal the card to blister. The printer is separate from the VBM machine, and cards are printed once filled RFID trays come out of the machine and are scanned.

VBM 200F is currently supported by an HP printer. The content that prints to each of the cards can be customized based on the requirements of the pharmacy. Typically, cards are printed with patient and pharmacy details, a 3D barcode that links the card to the filling report, drug dosage instructions, prescribing physician, total number of medications within the pack, date and time each blister is to be administered and color-coded cavities that indicate time of day for dosages.

Read Part I of this story.

Read Part II of this story.

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