Wegmans tests out RFID system on prescriptions

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Wegmans is planning on testing Radio Frequency Identification based drug tracking systems in its pharmacies to determine whether placing RFID tags on customers’ prescription orders could make locating and ringing up the orders faster and more accurate, according to published reports.

At the pharmacies, RFID tag encoders and interrogators will be installed and used to encode RFID inlays embedded in labels placed on prescriptions as they are filled. A serialized global trade item number will be encoded to each tag, and also printed on a 2-D bar code on the tag’s adhesive label, on which the EPCglobal logo will appear. The SGTIN will serve as a unique identifier for every tagged item and be associated with the recipient’s contact information and important medical information, such as known allergies.

Once an order is complete, a pharmacist will place the medication packet in a drawer, referred to as a will-call area, where orders are filed by each customer’s last name. Readers built into the drawers will take periodic inventory of the tagged orders, and pharmacists will be able to confirm whether an order is in the drawer, as well as its location within the drawer, by viewing a computer monitor (rather than by searching through the drawers), thereby saving time.

Mike Merulla, Wegmans’ application development manager for pharmacy systems, and Debbie Parker, the retail chain’s director of pharmacy business solutions, say they’re also exploring how the usefulness of RFID tags on individual pill bottles or blister packs could be extended beyond the point of purchase.

The specifics of the deal have not been announced as of yet and the company is still looking for partners in this new venture.

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