Magazine article Drug Topics

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking for Alternative Care Information

Magazine article Drug Topics

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking for Alternative Care Information

Article excerpt

How can a pharmacist obtain information on the spot to answer the increasing number of questions from consumers on alternative care medicines? One solution is HealthNotes, a three-- year-old Portland, Ore., firm offering an in-store, kiosk-based software information system.

By means of touch-- screen access, the computer-friendly system presents an array of information, along with an index, in the following categories: health conceres, nutritional support, herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, diets and therapies, and drug and nutrient interactions.

HealthNotes, whose sales rose from $200,000 in 1996 to almost $2 million in 1998, offers a customer kiosk version of its system at a fee ranging from $4,000 to $4,400 a year, depending on the size of the monitor. The system includes a rectangular pedestal cabinet that can be locked to prevent theft or tampering, a computer, a printer, a touch seen, and a banner to create and highlight an information destination within a store. For pharmacists who opt to purchase just the software for use in their PCs behind the counter, the cost is $795 a year and includes updated information.

"Education of the pharmacist is the key," explained Cheryl Bottger, director of marketing and new product development, HealthNotes. "Patients are really pressing pharmacists for information. Patients are concerned whether it is safe to use natural products in combination with prescription drugs. In many instances, it's not safe."

According to Bottger, pharmacists who are using the system are most interested in obtaining information about the safety and side effects of products. They are also concerned about how products are used in clinical situations for particular health conditions, and they want to know how the nutrients in herbal products interact with drubs. When a particular disease condition is discussed or a particular dosage is recommended, a reference to primary, peer-- reviewed literature is provided.

HealthNotes employs a team of students who scan 548 journals on a weekly basis. They pull abstracts from all articles related to clinical nutrition or herbal/drug research. These abstracts are sent to naturopaths, pharmacists, and chiropractors, who then write articles consumers can access and print at the kiosk. This information is updated twice a year.

The kiosk system offers two benefits for pharmacists, Bottger pointed out. …

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