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A salesman, a rocket scientist, a banker, and a pharmacist walk into a bar.
What sounds like the setup for a joke is actually the beginning of Parata’s journey to automation. These four friends, who all had experience in the automation industry, decided to work together to build a faster, more efficient vial-filling robot. Sixteen years later, Parata has become one of the fastest-growing pharmacy automation companies in the industry and the first-to-market with pouch-packaging for retail pharmacies.
Although it has grown and diversified, Parata’s identity still aligns with that of a start-up company, according to Mark Longley. Longley, the Executive VP of Sales and Business Development for Parata, enjoys the entrepreneurial attitude and spirit of the company. “We like challenging each other and coming up with new ideas,” he says. “We like constantly innovating our existing solutions and new ones, so much so that our competitors make fun of us for launching so many products, but we don’t think that’s a bad thing.” Considering that PioneerRx releases updates every week, we have to agree with Mark: constant innovation is great for our industry.
Speaking of new product launches, Parata released two new innovations earlier this year that focus on efficiency and accuracy. Parata Perl is Parata’s latest automated pouch inspection system and promises a faster, more affordable inspection aid. Pouch-inspecting systems of the past are large, expensive machines that are relatively slow (average 1-1.5 pouches per second). Parata Perl shatters the expectations of traditional pouch-inspecting systems and scans around 5 pouches per second. It’s also more affordable and can fit on any traditional countertop. Unlike other systems, Perl only needs a web browser to run the inspection application — not the proprietary servers and software. This allows pharmacists to log in remotely and perform verification from any workstation on the pharmacy network. “I think this is really going to open the door for pharmacies to really embrace compliance packaging and expand it within their customer base,” says Longley. No matter how large or small the pharmacy, every store can benefit from Perl.
Pivot is Parata’s latest workflow software for busy pharmacies that invest in multiple robots. Pharmacies providing adherence packaging to a large patient base may invest in multiple pouch packaging robots, but the original software was built around only one robot. Pivot, which Mark nicknames “air traffic control” for pharmacy automation, solves this challenge.
“All the scripts come to Pivot,” Mark explains, “Based on a series of algorithms, it decides which is the more efficient machine to package a batch of prescriptions with least amount of human intervention. It’s essentially artificial intelligence for optimizing your multiple pharmacy automation assets.” Pivot software is ideal for high-volume pharmacies, whether they are retail or long-term care, and is available for both pouch packaging and vial filling Parata automation systems.
Perl and Pivot work to provide faster, more accurate automation for pharmacies. Mark affectionately calls them his “babies” as he shares his excitement for debuting both recent additions during this year’s summer trade shows (both were initially unveiled at Connect 2017). As for future projects, Mark can only give us a hint for what’s on the horizon. “We will be expanding our portfolio from a software and hardware side, both vial and pouch with other additions in Q1 of next year. I’ll leave it at that,” he says. “The innovation is never done.”
Innovation is one of the main qualities we have in common with Parata. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons our software is used in their Vision Center, a live pharmacy that properly demonstrates Parata products in action. “People love our products, and they want to see it in practice with a pharmacy management system,” Longley explains. “Since many of our customers use PioneerRx, we knew we needed to call you guys. It really helps pharmacies who are mutual customers see our demonstrations on a real, live system, complete with their own pharmacy management system, PioneerRx.”
Parata’s never-faltering vision of the future is the reason we’re proud to call them one of our Partners in Innovation. “We have a mantra at Parata,” says Mark. “We want our customers to be winners. There’s a difference between selling something to as many people as you can versus selling things to people who are going to be very successful. Automation doesn’t solve the business problem; it’s a tool for them to be successful. While we can design, implement, and support it, the customer has an equally big obligation to make it successful in their pharmacy.” Like PioneerRx, Parata is a relatively young company that works tirelessly to advance and innovate the pharmacy industry.