The 'Where's Waldo?' of pharmacy tech

Besides AI, one emerging technology is snatching the attention of Joe Burczynski, PharmD, which performs tasks in a manner similar to completing a "Where's Waldo?" game with immediate success.

Some hospitals are already implementing RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology, including Syracuse, N.Y.-based SUNY Upstate Medical Center, where Dr. Burczynski serves as the executive director of pharmacy services. Hospitals are increasingly buying into the technology, he said, which uses radio waves to track tagged objects, according to a 2018 post from the FDA

At SUNY Upstate Medical Center, doses are given an RFID tag either by the drug manufacturer or by a hospital worker. The technology works similarly to barcode scanning — a common practice in pharmacies used to verify medications — but goes a step further to find mistakes.

"It's 'Where's Waldo?' Or, also, if Waldo's missing," Dr. Burczynski said. "In a hospital, we have code carts for emergencies where all the drugs you need are laid out in the same order in all the code carts in the hospital. If a human neglected to put something in its place, that could be bad in an emergency situation. You don't want to go to where the fire extinguisher is supposed to be and it's not there. So, RFID technology can look and see that a small vial is missing from where it should be. That's how we use it today."

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