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Automated Medication Packaging, Meet Zero-Miss Safety Inspector– ZiuZ® Medical

Posted by Kim Justesen on Apr 30, 2020 5:00:00 AM
Kim Justesen

How Do You Improve Patient Safety Worldwide? With Intelligence and Zero-Miss Barcode Reading Automation.

ZiuZ Medical - TFHCOne of the most critical goals in healthcare is patient safety. Patient Safety can include anything from the transfer of information to administering the right medication. With so many factors blindly contributing to the daily battle, it is comforting to know that ZiuZ Medical has placed the identification and validation of automatically dispensed medication firmly in the “certified and mastered” column worldwide.

ZiuZ Medical, a global visual intelligence company, based out of the Netherlands, set out to help pharmacies using automatic dose dispensing systems to assemble and package patient medications accurately without fail. Once a pill leaves a bottle, it also loses its identity and from one staff member to another the ability to remember exactly what it is–especially when many pills look so similar.

Automatic dose dispensing came to the rescue with the ability to individually package pills together so that only the medicines intended for a specific patient are in fact delivered to that patient. But what happens if during that automation process the wrong pills get placed into the package? Using 13 parameters, near-infrared (NIR) image analysis technologies, and intelligent algorithms ZiuZ is able to identify each pill or capsule within each bag during this automation process at a rate of 6 inches per second giving each medication pack an approval or rejection ensuring only the correct medication is ever placed in each bag.

Getting a Grip on Quality

As you can probably imagine, one of the most crucial elements to get right for patient safety would be the dispensing of the right drugs each and every time no matter the workflow. Each patient’s needs are unique, making the treatment process varied and often complicated. Ensuring that each patient gets the correct dosage of the correct drug is vital, and errors can be fatal.

In a study titled, “Medication errors: the importance of safe dispensing”, published by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, states that the most common causes of dispensing errors were: being busy, being short-staffed, being subject to time-constraints, fatigue of healthcare providers, interruptions during dispensing, and look-alike/sound-alike medicines (1).

It is clear that automatic dose dispensing and dispensing machines have been recommended as one potential mechanism to improve efficiency and patient safety, and they are now widely used in many hospitals (2). There is no doubt that these machines can enhance the efficiency of medication distribution, but their capacity to reduce medication errors is controversial and depends on many factors. In answer to the quality control battle, ZiuZ Medical created an intelligent solution incorporating the industries best image-based barcode scanning software from Code Corporation®. When a patient’s life can hinge on having a solution that automatically verifies the contents of each pill pack, ensuring that they contain the correct medication before there is a chance of it reaching the patient is a healthcare win from any perspective.

Testing, Testing, 1 2 3

The task was to find a way not only to identify each individual pill within every given medication pack assembled but also to find a way to compare that information with what should be located inside each package and identifying errors. This process would need to include difficult medicines and capsules, and situations with broken pills or crumbs.  

The ZiuZ intelligent system started with a detailed photograph of the transparent side of each bag to show the contents of the pouch, but it needed the ability to reliably scan and decode the 2D barcode printed on the back of each pack containing the details of what items should be found inside. This part played a crucial role. Without it, their technology would not be able to perform the verification/comparison to deliver a “match or error” result. The need to find an enterprise-grade, high-performing scanning solution that would scan without fail the 2D barcode on the printed side of this reflective bag proved a challenge, until they discovered CortexDecoder®.  


In healthcare, as in a lot of industries, time is a valuable resource. However, unlike most businesses, in healthcare, time is more than money because life and death decisions are made in seconds. The right scanning solution would make checking packs of medication fast and accurate while reinforcing a superior product reputation. ZiuZ turned to TachyonIQ, integrating CortexDecoder into the med pack checking device. The result? CortexDecoder has delivered a scanning experience that exceeded all of ZiuZ’ expectations.

Prior to finding Code, ZiuZ Medical used a decoder that had an error rate of .05%. This meant 1 in every 200 barcodes was misreading, and the potential for dispensing the wrong medication could have catastrophic consequences. This was clearly unacceptable to ZiuZ, and it led to the search for a decoding algorithm that would be able to meet the critical demands of the company. The decoding software that ZiuZ needed had to deliver on three essential things:

  • The error read rate needed to be as close to zero as possible
  • It needed to be able to read 2D barcodes moving at a speed of approximately 6 inches per second
  • It had to flawlessly decode from the reflective surface of the shiny, thin foil packs that could wrinkle fairly easily and compromise the barcode readability

Finding a barcode decoder algorithm to meet these exacting requirements seemed, at times, a nearly impossible task. ZiuZ tested a few decoding platforms, but each one came with an issue that impeded their ability to function up to the standards they had set for their equipment. They knew their exacting specifications were challenging, but they also believed the solution had to exist.

However, after additional platforms were investigated, doubts began to filter in. The benefits of their system and its ability to provide life-saving care to patients kept them searching, and ultimately they came upon Code They were impressed with the power and versatility of CortexDecoder A simple test drive of the enterprise SDK was all it took to move ZiuZ forward.

Enterprise Barcode Scanning Software Solution: CortexDecoder

The performance of CortexDecoder exceeded every expectation. CortexDecoder was able to scan thousands of barcodes before even one could be identified as an error.

Medication delivery patients can trustThe 2D barcode printed on the back of the medication packets holds the information of which pills and how many are supposed to be in every pack, and that information needs to match the photograph that the machine takes of the transparent side of the bag. These dispensing machines only have one chance to read each barcode that zooms by. CortexDecoder reads these barcodes with zero-miss reliability, allowing the verification process to happen quickly and accurately.  ZiuZ Medical found that, by integrating CortexDecoder into their system, their machines were more efficient and helped ZiuZ move closer to improving patient safety worldwide.

“CortexDecoder provides the scan performance we have been looking for,” says Johan van Duijne, Product Manager for ZiuZ Medical. “Not only did the decoder perform better in our machines than we expected, but the customer support provided by TachyonIQ made choosing their decoder even easier.”

Decoding in Action

For OEM manufacturers looking to integrate enterprise-grade barcode scanning into their operations, there is a solution that will improve both your efficiency and accuracy. CortexDecoder is a high-performance decoding algorithm that works on any platform or operating system and provides you with results that will make you wonder why you didn’t make the move sooner.

By pairing CortexDecoder with the latest imaging technologies, you can deliver a market-leading product that will provide your customers with true enterprise-grade barcode scanning capabilities and zero-miss performance even in less than ideal scanning environments or on damaged barcodes.

Interested in learning more about the SDK features or test driving our tech for yourself?  Contact us today 1+ 801-495-2200, or info@codecorp.com.

 

Works Cited:

Topics: Healthcare, Healthcare Innovation, Healthcare Workflow, Medication Administration, healthcare barcode scanning, bedside patient safety, track and trace, CortexDecoder, Cortex Decoder

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