How AI Will Improve Print Accuracy and Efficiency

Pharma Collaboration Sheds Light on the Future of Print Management and Artificial Intelligence



Colin McMahon


A recent partnership between healthcare technology provider DrFirst and software solution company Speed Script, which specializes in pharmacy management solutions, showcases the potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in the one of the industries touched by print. The solution put forth by the two companies will reduce human error and increase productivity in over a hundred US pharmacies by introducing a patented AI that improves the information clarity in incoming prescriptions and drug-matching technology into pharmacy management systems.


The AI, known as DrFirst’s SmartSig AI, accurately translates 93% of patient directions in electronic prescriptions. It also matches a specific medication in an electronic prescription to the same drug in a pharmacy’s management system, which will be useful when the prescriber and pharmacy use different drug terminology or branding.


While the short-term advantages—at least regarding time-saving and improved efficiency—are not immediately noticeable, the long-term effect adds up. Pharmacies using the solution will process more than 250 prescriptions a day, saving roughly six hours every month on administrative jobs. This will free up time, allowing the staff to put their energy into patient engagement initiatives and give each patient more in-person attention.


Print and AI: The Bigger Picture

What is happening between DrFrist and Speed Script may be angled toward a subsector of the healthcare market, yet it has much larger implications for the entire print industry. At Keypoint Intelligence, we talk a lot about the benefits of automation and using machines to streamline workflows—whether it is through reducing human touchpoints (and the potential for human error), connecting print hardware to better communicate across production scenarios, or just better enabling decentralized workflows—the benefits of automation are numerous and essential.


That said, AI and machine learning represent the step beyond this: A phase when software will be “smart” enough to fulfill more than just pre-programmed tasks. It will actually “think” about its objective like a human would in the sense that it will look to streamline inefficiencies and do the job better. It may sound like something out of science fiction, but it is happening around the world in various ways and industries. There are machines learning games as simple as Go while others (like Watson and IMB) look to study millions of x-rays for patterns, spotting data that even a skilled physician might miss.


IBM’s AI “reads” x-rays, looking for and recognizing patterns. It can process hundreds of x-rays
simultaneously as it makes judgements, far more than any human doctor can.


That said, the terms “AI” and “machine learning” are often used as marketing buzzwords, and it was difficult to find out whether DrFirst’s solution is an example of true AI or just sophisticated programming. At the end of the day, however, it does not really matter—not for this solution and not in the ways that many printers can use similar programs to further streamline their workflows. If a program can accurately read and match a prescription over 90% of the time, imagine similar technology used to match food labels or essential signage. Many marketers may use these terms to make their solutions sound even more high-tech, but make no mistake: There are numerous advancements happening regarding AI and machine learning. This latest partnership likely represents just another step. Print companies should be paying attention, as the organizations that capture and properly utilize the technology today may well be the industry leaders of tomorrow.