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Tech Tools Tackle Medication Problems

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, July 16, 2013

Because of slight variations between pills manufactured in the same batch, the app then asks the user to verify its findings, a momentary process I liken to the "are you sure" prompts one receives before deleting a file. "We find pills that have no imprints," says MedSnap CEO Patrick Hymel MD. "We find pills that have partial imprints that are slightly different in color. For all these reasons, the user needs to click each pill and sign off."


MedSnap

For pills that MedSnap knows, it correctly identifies them 97 percent of the time, which approaches the accuracy of appearance to which the pills themselves are manufactured, Hymel says. "Capsules might be 50 millimeters in length, but then you'll find some that are 60. You can look at six Adderall [pills] – this happened last week – and four of them will be dark gray. Two of them will be light gray. They're both gray. Which one is accurate? So there are limits to the specifications that you can depend on."

MedSnap ended an extended beta test period this spring, after being tested at Auburn School of Pharmacy, the Samford School of Pharmacy, and other similar institutions, involving more than 300 pharmacists. When the app discovers a pill it doesn't recognize, it asks the user if they want to donate images of the unknown pill to the MedSnap library, then adds it to the growing knowledge base.

App pricing is based on the number of admissions at a particular facility, and initial deployments have come in hospital emergency departments, home nursing, and pre-op departments, then eventually make its way into outpatient clinics, where it will be licensed on a per-physician basis, says Hymel.

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