Invented by Jonathan W. Joplin, Express Scripts Strategic Development Inc

The market for systems and methods for prescription container shipping has seen significant growth in recent years. With the increasing demand for prescription medications, there is a need for efficient and secure shipping solutions to ensure the safe delivery of these essential products. Prescription container shipping involves the transportation of medications from pharmaceutical manufacturers to healthcare providers, pharmacies, and ultimately to the patients. This process requires careful handling and adherence to strict regulations to maintain the integrity and safety of the medications. One of the key factors driving the growth of this market is the rise in e-commerce and online pharmacies. With the convenience of ordering medications online, there is a need for robust shipping systems that can handle the transportation of prescription containers in a timely and secure manner. These systems often include temperature-controlled packaging to ensure that medications are not compromised during transit. Another factor contributing to the market growth is the increasing focus on patient safety and medication adherence. Prescription container shipping systems and methods play a crucial role in preventing medication errors and ensuring that patients receive the correct medications. These systems often include features such as tamper-evident packaging and tracking technologies to provide real-time visibility of the shipment. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the demand for prescription container shipping solutions. With the increased reliance on home delivery of medications, there is a need for efficient and reliable shipping methods to ensure that patients receive their prescriptions in a timely manner. This has led to the adoption of innovative technologies such as drone delivery and autonomous vehicles for prescription container shipping. The market for systems and methods for prescription container shipping is highly competitive, with several key players offering a wide range of solutions. These companies often provide end-to-end shipping services, including packaging, labeling, tracking, and temperature monitoring. They also collaborate with logistics providers to ensure seamless transportation and delivery of prescription containers. In terms of geographical presence, North America and Europe dominate the market due to the well-established healthcare infrastructure and the presence of major pharmaceutical companies. However, emerging economies in Asia Pacific and Latin America are also witnessing significant growth, driven by the increasing healthcare expenditure and the growing demand for prescription medications. In conclusion, the market for systems and methods for prescription container shipping is experiencing rapid growth due to the increasing demand for prescription medications, the rise of e-commerce and online pharmacies, and the focus on patient safety. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, there will be a greater need for innovative shipping solutions to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of prescription containers.

The Express Scripts Strategic Development Inc invention works as follows

The system is designed to take filled prescription bottles from an automated pharmacy, and place them in a package ready for shipping. The system has an inflow that feeds containers onto a turntable. A robot then moves the containers from the turntable into a container placement area, where they are placed in a shipping package pocket. The tracking of each container is done to make sure that only the containers associated with a prescription are packaged together.

Background for Systems and Methods for Prescription Container Shipping

A high-volume pharmacist may be able to process and fulfill a large number prescriptions and orders. A high-volume pharmacy may use automated systems to process and fill prescriptions.

More than one prescription medication is often required to fill a prescription order. Parts of a prescription order can be filled in different parts of a high-volume pharmacy. The filled prescriptions can be combined into one complete order to ship.

Examples of systems and methods (e.g. in a pharmacie) for a container packaging device for prescriptions are described. For the purpose of explaining, many specific details will be provided in order to give a complete understanding of example embodiments. “It will be obvious to those of ordinary skill that embodiments can be practiced even without these specific details.

In general, a prescription is created for a pharmacy with a large volume. A prescription order can include more than just one prescription drug. Each prescription drug is a component of a prescription. Order components include pill bottles, other prescription containers or packaging that contain a prescribed quantity of the drug.

The prescription drugs can be dispensing at different sections of a high volume pharmacy. Certain prescription orders require the manual fulfillment of order elements. A distribution section, as well as one or more manual sections, are responsible for the distribution of order components that require manual fulfillment. Manual handling is generally defined as manual fulfillment of prescriptions drugs (e.g. by a pharmacist using or directly controlling certain machines). Manual handling can occur at more than one manual section, where the order component leaves the manual fulfillment device. Automated machines can be used to fill some prescription orders, or parts of prescription orders. These automated machines are able to process prescription orders faster than manual fulfillment.

The prescription drugs can be put into bottles or containers by opening the tops. The top of the container is closed by using a cap or closure device. Two different styles of caps can be used, such as the child-resistant cap (CRC), or an easy opening cap. The cap can be sealed onto the container using a wrap seal, for example. The seal can overlap the cap at least partially and enclose it, for example, next to the cap or open top. Automated systems and methods can be used in a high-volume fulfillment center to seal the cap onto the container. In certain embodiments, an order from a pharmacy may contain multiple types of drugs. Each type is kept in a separate container. When necessary, multiple containers can be shipped together. These containers are usually grouped at the end when they have been filled and packaged for shipping. The containers are then placed into a package, which may contain literature about the drugs that will be shipped in the container. The package with the containers can then be sealed to ship.

FIG. Block diagram 1 shows an example system 100 according to one embodiment. The system 100 can be deployed in other places. While it is described as a system for a high-volume pharmacy (e.g. a mail order, direct delivery, automated, etc.) the system 100 could also be deployed elsewhere. The system 100 can include an order processor device 102 that is in communication with a benefits manager device 106 via a network. Other devices that may be in communication with either the benefit manager device or the order processing device over the network 104 are: database(s), which can store order data 110, member information 112, claims data data 114 and prescription data 118; load device (s), 124, inspect device (s), 126, unit of usage device (128); automated dispensing unit(s), 130; manual fulfilment device, 132; review, device, 134, imaging, device, 136, accumulation, device, 140, literature Additional devices may be included in the system 100. These may communicate directly or over network 104.

The order-processing device 102 can receive information on prescriptions filled in a pharmacy where the device is deployed. The order processing device is generally a device that is located in a pharmacy or associated with it to fulfill a prescription. In some embodiments the order processing device may be separate from a pharmacies that allows communication with other devices within a pharmacist. The order processing device may communicate with other order processing devices 102 or with other devices 122-144 within a pharmacy. In certain embodiments, a pharmacy order-processing device externally operated (e.g. by a patient) may be limited in functionality, while an internal pharmacy device order-processing device 102 can have greater functionality.

The order processing device 102 can track the fulfillment of a prescription order. One or more prescriptions may be included in a prescription order. Order processing device 102 can make decisions about pharmacy routing and/or order consolidating for a prescribed order. The order consolidation decisions are based on whether a part of a prescription or multiple orders should be shipped to a family or patient together. The order processing device can be used alone or in conjunction with the benefit manager device. The order processing device may schedule and/or track the literature or paperwork that is associated with each prescription order or order. In some embodiments, when the order-processing device 102 determines an order is to be consolidated or that multiple containers associated with an order or a member are to be shipped together, it also determines packaging for shipping. The order processing device may select a package of four or fewer containers or an eight-or-fewer container package, for example. The packaging device 142 may seal the package after the containers have been placed in it, manually by pharmacy staff, by another device or by any other means.

Examples of devices 102 and 106 are a set-topbox (STB), receiver card, mobile telephone, personal digital assistant (PDA), display device, portable gaming unit (tablet), portable computer, and computing system. However, other devices can also be used. The devices 102,106 can include mobile electronic devices, such as an IPHONE, IPAD, or Android-powered device from Google, Inc., and a Blackberry device by Blackberry Limited. Other computing devices such as desktop computers, notebook computers, netbook computers, gaming devices and servers may also be included in the devices 102,106. The devices 102 and 106 can include circuitry and a processor. They may also have a memory for storing data and instructions and communication capabilities. “Other types of electronic devices can also be used that use rules and instructions for various functions.

Examples of network 104 are the Mobile Communications (GSM), a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) Network, 3rd Generation Partnership Project ( 3GPP), Internet Protocol (IP), a Wireless Application Protocol(WAP) Network, a WiFi or IEEE 802.11 Standards network as well as different combinations. The network 104 can include optical communications. The network 104 can be a local network or global communication network such as the Internet. Wired and wireless networks of earlier or later development may be used. In some embodiments the network 104 can include a prescribing system such as Surescripts’ electronic prescribing system.

The benefit manager device 106 can be operated by an entity that is at least partly responsible for the creation or management of a pharmacy benefit. The benefit manager that operates the benefit management device 106, is usually a pharmacy benefit manger (PBM). However, other entities can operate the device on behalf of the PBM or themselves. The benefit manager can be operated by, for example, a pharmacy, a retailer, a wholesaler of drugs, data analytics, software companies, etc. In certain embodiments, the PBM may provide the pharmacy benefit as well as one or more additional benefits, such as a medical benefit or health benefit. Other options include a dental or vision benefit. A wellness benefit. A radiology benefit. In addition to its PBM operation, the PBM can operate one or more pharmacies. “The pharmacies can be retail, mail-order, or other.

Some of the PBM’s operations that operate the benefit manager device 106 include the following. The member of a PBM administered pharmacy benefit plan (or the person acting on behalf of that member) attempts to get a prescription drug from a retail pharmacy where the member is able to purchase drugs from a pharmacist, pharmacist technician or mail order pharmacy. A member can also get a prescription drug through a machine such as a vending machine, kiosk, mobile electronic device or another type of mechanical, electric, electronic communication and/or computing devices.

A co-pay may be a payment that the member makes to the pharmacy for prescription drugs. The money that the member pays to the pharmacy can come from personal funds, the members health savings account (HSA), member’s families health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), flexible spending accounts (FSA), member or member’s relatives, and other sources. The member’s employer may reimburse or fund the co-pay directly or indirectly.

The amount of co-pay that a member pays may differ depending on the benefit plan offered by a client or plan sponsor. The co-pay for a member may be based upon a flat rate (e.g. $10), coinsurance (10%), or a deductible ($500 for the first year of prescription drug spending) for some prescription drugs.

In certain cases, a member may be able to pay only a portion or none of the copay for an prescription drug. If, for example, the generic version of the prescription medication costs $4 and the flat co-pay for the member is $20, then the member can only pay $4 for the drug. In another case, a member may not be required to pay a co-pay for obtaining a prescription drug. Co-pays may vary depending on how the prescription drug is delivered. The co-pay may be lower if you receive prescription drugs from a mail-order pharmacy than if you get them from a retail location.

The pharmacy will submit a claim for the prescription medication to the PBM after receiving the copay from the member (if applicable) and dispensing it to the member. The PBM can perform adjudication procedures, including verifying eligibility, reviewing a formulary for the member in order to determine the appropriate co-pays, coinsurance and deductibles for the prescription drug and performing a Drug Utilization Review (DUR) of the patient. After performing at least some operations, the PBM will provide a response to pharmacy. The plan sponsor, or the PBM acting on behalf of plan sponsor, reimburses the pharmacy when adjudication is successful. Adjudication operations such as those mentioned above are generally performed before co-payments and prescription drugs are dispensed. The operations can occur in any order, but they may also be performed simultaneously or substantially simultaneously. As part of the adjudication procedure, additional or fewer adjudication procedures may be performed.

The amount reimbursed to a pharmacy by the plan sponsor or the money paid by a member can be determined at least in part by the type of network that the pharmacy belongs to. The amount can be determined by other factors in addition to the pharmacy network. If the member pays for the drug without using the benefit manager’s prescription drug benefit, then the amount paid by the member and the amount received by pharmacy may be greater. The benefit manager device 106 or an additional device can be used to perform some or all of the above operations.

In some embodiments, the benefit manager device may include at least part of the functionality provided by the order processing device. The order processing device may have a client/server relationship, a peer to peer relationship, or a relationship of another type with the benefits manager device.

The order processing device 102 and/or the benefit manager device 106 may be in communication directly (e.g., through local storage or peer-to-peer connection(s)) and/or through the network 104 (e.g., in a cloud configuration or software-as-a-service) with a database 108 (e.g., as may be retained in memory or otherwise). The database 108 can be installed on the order-processing device 102, benefit manager device, another device in the system 100 or elsewhere. The database 108 can store order data 110 as well as member data 112, claim data 114 and prescription data 118. The database 108 may also store other data.

The order data 110 can include information about the prescription order, such as the drug name (e.g. strength and type) and the quantity for each prescription. Order data 110 can also include information used to complete the prescription. For example, prescription materials or the type and/or container size in which the drug will be or is preferred. Prescription materials are order materials which include an electronic tangible copy of the information about the prescribed drug. These materials can be included with or in conjunction with a fulfilled prescription. Prescription materials can include electronic data such as drug interaction warnings or information on possible side effects. They may also contain expiration dates, prescribing dates, and other relevant information. The electronic information can be stored in memory, processed by a processor, or in another machine-readable format. “A high volume fulfillment center may use order data 110 to fill a pharmacy order.

Click here to view the patent on Google Patents.