Invented by Shelton Louie, Stephen A. Garrett, GSL Solutions Inc
The GSL Solutions Inc invention works as followsA pharmacy storage system that includes a frame with a rack-like design and a number of storage carriers suspended from it. The carriers have a size that can accommodate filled prescription orders, and they also include identifiers to help locate them at a particular location on the rack structure. The storage system should include a tracking system which detects, monitors and displays the location of a storage carrier that contains a customer’s prescribed order to the worker.
Background for Suspended Storage System for Pharmacy
A typical local retail pharmacies fill thousands of prescription orders each week. As the population ages, and as new drugs become available, the number of prescriptions to be filled in retail pharmacies is expected to double over the next few decades. The current and anticipated increase in the number of prescriptions placed places tremendous pressure on pharmacists, and other pharmacy staff, who are trying to fill every order accurately, efficiently and quickly.
Retail pharmacies maintain a “will-call” area where filled prescription orders are waiting to be picked up by customers. The amount of storage space required to store filled prescriptions in a retail pharmacy must increase as the number of prescription orders increases. Most retail pharmacies are unable to increase their square footage in order to accommodate more storage space. The will-call storage areas in many retail pharmacies are now unwieldy, and inefficient.
Most retail pharmacies keep filled prescriptions on shelves fixed to the wall or in containers stored on fixed bins. These bins are separated enough to allow workers to walk between each one to reach them. These bins are usually identified and arranged using a unique alphabetic number such as “A”, “B”, or “C” and the pharmacist places the filled prescriptions in the bin that corresponds to the customer’s first name. Prescription orders from different customers with the same initial letter of their name are usually placed in the bin at random. A pharmacy worker will have to sort through the entire bin of prescription orders in order for them to locate a specific customer’s order. A pharmacy worker can inadvertently distribute the wrong prescription from the collection of prescriptions in the bin. This compromises the safety of the person who receives the prescription. This is more likely to happen when customers with the same name or names that are similar are stored in the same place in the will-call area.
Some pharmacies installed will-call racks that contain a number of small bins. Each bin has a unique number or identifier, and one prescription order can be placed in each. A worker can then record the bin number that a customer’s prescription has been placed in, and retrieve the information when the customer comes to pick up their prescription order.
While these types of systems facilitate locating and retrieving a customer’s prescription order, they require a large number of individually-identified bins in order for a large pharmacy to have enough storage bins to accommodate its workload. To allow workers access to all bins, they must have suitable passageways. In reality, a sufficient number of bins with their associated passageways requires a lot of floor space. Many pharmacies and especially retail pharmacies do not have enough floor space to fit an adequate number of bins into a storage area.
In addition, as the number of prescriptions handled by a pharmacy increases, and as the technology to allow pharmacies to fulfill these orders faster improves, pharmacies may require more space to store filled prescriptions awaiting pickup by customers.
Other customers can view the contents of bins that contain a first-customer’s prescription order waiting to be picked up in known will call storage devices when they pick up their prescription orders. Accordingly, these devices may compromise the privacy and security of a first customer’s personal medical information.
The present invention, in addition to other benefits that will become apparent in the following disclosure, fulfills these needs. The present invention, in addition to the other benefits which will be apparent from the disclosure that follows, fulfills these requirements.
The present invention is an innovative storage system for pharmacies that consists of a frame with a rack-like design and a number of storage carriers suspended from it. The carriers have a size that can accommodate filled prescriptions and other items. They also include individual identifiers to help locate the carriers on the rack-like system.
The pharmacy worker or pharmacy order prescription tracking systems will record the location of the storage container within the rack-like structure. The rack-like structure should be a series of vertically aligned horizontal bars. This will maximize the number of storage carriers within the frame.
The storage carrier conceals both the customer identification number and the prescription order of a particular customer. This protects the privacy of the customer. Since each customer’s individual prescription order is physically separated, and the unique identifiers that are used to track and find a customer’s prescription within the system do not necessarily relate to their last name, there is a reduced risk of an inadvertently distributing a filled order to the incorrect customer.
The storage system should include a tracking system which detects, monitors and displays the location of a storage carrier that contains a customer’s prescribed order. This will allow the worker to retrieve the prescription order quickly.
The detailed description of the preferred embodiment of the invention, which is followed by the accompanying drawings, will reveal additional objects and benefits of the present technology.
In FIGS. 1-10, we can see a space-saving and cost-effective suspended storage carrier device that allows a pharmacy to maximize the number of storage carriers available on a small amount of floor area. 1-10.
As shown in FIGS. The storage device 20 comprises a frame which is preferably vertical cabinet 24 with an opening 26 to allow access to its interior. “A rack-like structure such as the horizontally aligned bars 28 a – e are positioned vertically in the cabinet 24 and can be operated within it.
Each bar 28 has identifiers on it, each with a unique code readable by pharmacy workers or others. The unique identifiers are best organized logically. Each identifier 30 may include a letter code that denotes a specific rod (28 a-e) within the cabinet, and a sequential code to indicate a logical order of identifiers (30 on this specific rod).
The rack-like structure is equipped with a plurality of suspended storage carriers. As shown best in FIG. As shown in FIG. The hook is designed to engage the rods 28 a – e and suspend the bag below them.
The bag is sized to hold filled prescriptions and other items. Each receptacle 32 includes a left 38 and a right 40 that are operably connected with forward and backward portions 42,44, respectively, as shown, allowing them to be compressed together if the content of the receptacle 32 is smaller than its maximum volume.
Each storage container 22 has a unique identification on it that helps locate the carrier in a particular location within the rack-like structure. The identifier could be a visual identification 50 that can be easily read by a pharmacist or other workers, or it could be an electronic identification 52 (FIG. The computer can read the identifier (FIG.
Preferably each unique visual identification 50 on the storage carrier 22 corresponds to a unique visual identification 30 on the rods 28 a-e. A worker can then easily identify the location along the rod 28 a-e that the storage carrier 22 is to be placed. The unique visual identifiers 30,50 on the rod, and the storage carriers 22, are preferably color coded. A yellow-colored storage carrier is placed adjacent to the yellow identifier 30, and a storage carrier in red is adjacent to the red identifier 30, on the rod. This color-coding allows for an easy visual comparison in order to determine whether a storage carrier is located correctly on the rod 28.
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