Cape Town based NGO, Cell-Life, has over the past decade successfully rolled out their in-house pharmacy management platform, intelligent Dispensing of Antiretroviral Treatment (iDART), to a number of sites in South Africa and Africa. Users in 112 countries have also downloaded the platform.

In a recent interview with eHealthNews, Cell-Life Projects Coordinator, Annie Parsons, talked about the system’s development and how it’s improving efficiency and accuracy in ARV dispensing.

iDART was initiated in 2004 as Cell-Life’s first official project in collaboration with the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and University of Cape Town. The system was initially developed to support pharmacists in dispensing ARV drugs in the public healthcare sector. “It’s an easy to use system for medications management that is already being used at pharmacies and clinics with great success; some facilities have reported that there have been no stock outs since implementing the system,” said Parsons.

Parsons explained how the system is used by pharmacists to manage the supplies of ARV drug stocks, print reports and manage collection of drugs by patients. “It functions as both a stock management and patient management system by allowing pharmacists and clinicians to monitor the drug supply chain from the time the stock is entered into the system to when it is dispensed, as well as recording when the patient last picked up their medicine, any drug switches and retention of patients on treatment,” said Parsons.


iDART’s interface

iDART also creates multi-lingual bar-coded labels that allows pharmacists and clinicians to save time when dispensing ARV’s by using barcode scanners to quickly capture information.

“The system was developed especially for low-resource settings, so it can be used independent of internet connectivity. At many facilities it’s the only system in use,” said Parsons.

Although open source, when a customer requires assistance, training or further development of the system they can enter into a contract with Cell-Life. “iDART was initially designed to manage ARVs and it also manages TB medication or any other side medication,” said Parsons.

iDART works with most existing medical systems in South Africa, such as Tier.Net and eKAPA. According to Parsons, the important thing for South Africa in general is to determine how to build in a chronic care module to record patients over a long period of time. “We need to think long term and see who’s taking ARVS and other meds over the next 20 years,” concluded Parsons.

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