Claude Parnell wants to know why it is that people can track a $5 pair of socks at every stopping point between and their house, but most hospitals can't track medications between the pharmacy department and the bedside -even those that cost $10,000 or more per dose.

For Parnell, operations director for system therapeutics at Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pa., it's on the verge of being a rhetorical question. Geisinger is now deploying a combination of robots, pneumatic tubes, and software to track medications from the moment the order is entered to the time it's administered to the patient. (See below.) The final piece of the puzzle is an interface with its electronic health record system so that nurses-or any other hospital staff, for that matter-can find out the status of any medication from any workstation.

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