by Brian J. Coppola
On November 24, 2014, I picked up my medication at my local Walmart pharmacy. For the first time I swiped the special label on the package using the ScripTalk Patient station. This type of label is called a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) label and has a tiny chip in it. The ScripTalk station is provided as a loan to people who are legally blind through En-Vision America. It is a white plastic device about the size of a hand with the fingers spread.
(Contact information for En-Vision America is at the end of this post.) Medications can have the RFID Label placed on them by arrangement with participating pharmacies. When you go to a Walmart store (or other brick and mortar pharmacy), that does not have the ScripTalk system, this is what to do:
Talk to the pharmacist there. You make a request to the pharmacist for The ScripTalk system at the pharmacy. When headquarters approves the request for the ScripTalk system for that pharmacy, and the system is set up there, then you can get your prescriptions with the ScripTalk labels.
Back in 2014 I had trouble getting it implemented, because I was the first ScripTalk user in my Walmart in Methuen, Massachusetts,. The Methuen Wal Mart was very reluctant to use the ScripTalk system and told me I had to go through corporate offices. I only got mine after an attorney working with En-Vision America contacted the Walmart Corporation. The lawyer contacted Wal Mart’s corporate attorney, and low and behold, it was done! So, I was the first one to get it into a major chain pharmacy in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
There are now many more pharmacies especially mail order pharmacies working with ScripTalk. (Check the latest update posted on February 16 this year.)
The ScripTalk has helped me identify and verify that the pharmacist has given me the right prescription. The ScripTalk announces the dosage, expiration date, doctor’s name, number of refills and any warnings. The blind user can detect any errors right away, and phone the pharmacist.
When the labeling is correct, ScripTalk will read it to you correctly. If the label is in the wrong location, it will just make lots of beeping noise, which I had discovered had nothing to do with the device, but is usually that the label has been placed on a metal surface such as an aluminum tube.
The ScripTalk station has, in the updated version, a USB jack that connects the device to a USB port on a desktop or laptop windows-based computer, and the same information can be read as print using screen magnification, or read aloud with a screen reader program such as JAWS, or used with a refreshable braille display. En-Vision America will give more details of how to do this. The scripTalk also has a headphone jack which may make hearing the information easier.
The ScripTalk system is at present only available to people with vision loss, but it could also be a huge benefit to caregivers whether it is family members or home health aides of people unable to manage their own medications. Caregivers for elderly relatives or developmentally delayed people at home or in group or nursing homes could find the ScripTalk a quick and efficient way to check all the details of a medication.
The En-Vision America website and phone will give further details of ways to read your prescriptions. Unfortunately Walgreens does not use the ScripTalk, but a very inferior recording device set in the lid of the medication.