Mankato Clinic Achieves Secure, Efficient Prescription Generation With Star Micronics TSP800Rx Printers

Posted August 6, 2010

Star TSP800Writing prescriptions for patients is a complicated endeavor these days. While some orders for medication and devices may be conveyed to pharmacies by telephone, federal regulations stipulate that controlled substance prescriptions be presented at pharmacies before they are dispensed. Stringent regulations issued recently by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to combat the estimated $5 billion in annual prescription fraud committed throughout the U.S. also come into play; these regulations call for secure prescriptions that cannot be copied, altered or counterfeited.

Bob Norman, director of IT at Mankato Clinic, had such challenges in mind as he shopped the aisles of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference & Exhibition three years ago. One of Minnesota’s largest physician-owned, multi-specialty regional group practices, Mankato Clinic operates eight sites in and around Mankato; its staff includes 80 physicians.

At the time of Norman’s visit to the HIMSS meeting, Mankato Clinic management had already decided to migrate from a manual (handwritten) prescription-issuance system to a printer-based one. “We thought it would be better all around in terms of compliance with all regulations, as well as to make the job a little easier for the doctors,” Norman said. Management had also concluded that using dedicated prescription printers, rather than all-purpose laser jet printers fitted with prescription-generating software, would be their best bet because the latter are more expensive and print prescriptions on 8 ½” X 11” paper instead of standard prescription form.

“We didn’t want to pay more for ‘all-purpose’ printers when all we were going to do was to generate prescriptions,” Norman explained. “We also needed very solid, secure dedicated units with a convenient small footprint, and that would even hang on a wall if we wanted them to.”

In perusing the HIMMS exhibits, Norman found exactly what he sought in Star Micronics’ TSP800Rx thermal printer. “It fit all our criteria,” he noted. In addition to being designed specifically for the medical industry, it offers durability, a small footprint, and a wall-mounting option.” Even more importantly, Norman said, the TSP800Rx is the only printer available for the medical industry to boast a locking mechanism that deters unauthorized removal of prescription media from the paper chamber.

Other attributes of the unit also caught Norman’s eye. These included a Kensington lock slot for added security, plus an ultra-rapid print speed of 50 lines per second, a “ Drop In & Print” paper loading feature, a “disable paper feed” function and a jam-proof cutter–all essential for busy medical offices.

Mankato Clinic currently has 25 TSP800Rx printers in place, all of which operate with Allscripts prescribing software from Allscripts-Misys Heathcare Solutions. The first unit was deployed at one site two years ago. It received such rave reviews that an additional 24 units were rolled out two to three months later, in a span of four to five months. Norman handled the installation himself, a process he described as “very simple, with no problems.”

Aside from the desired ability to generate prescriptions with far more efficiency than in the past while occupying minimal space, the printers deliver on the promise of security. Not long ago, one of Mankato Clinic’s physicians attempted to access a printer at his site without using a key. “He had sent his print job to a different machine, but didn’t realize it and tried to get into this unit because he thought he had the right one and that the paper was just stuck,” Norman said. “He tried a lot of different things to get to the paper mechanism, without success. This goes to show just how secure the TSP800Rx really is.”

What’s more, he added, Mankato Clinic is reaping other benefits from the installation. Notably, all of the facilities are saving paper because there is no need to utilize regular size, 8 ½” X 11” stock. Pharmacies like the solution; there is no longer any worry about deciphering prescriptions that bear the illegible or difficult-to-read handwriting for which physicians are renowned.”

“The TSP800Rx is secure, efficient and not terribly expensive,” Norman concludes. “What more could we want in a dedicated printing solution?”

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