CVS Pharmacy has announced Spoken Rx, a new feature to its app that can read a specific prescription label out loud for patients with visual impairments or who cannot read standard print labels.
CVS plans to add RFID labels to its prescriptions at 1,500 pharmacy locations by the end of 2020. These smart labels can be scanned by the Spoken Rx feature in the app and then read out loud in either English or Spanish.
Spoken Rx will be available in all CVS Pharmacy locations by the end of 2021, the company says.
To enroll in the free program, people can either call into the pharmacy or go into the store for assistance.
The development of Spoken Rx was assisted by the American Council of the Blind, which helped CVS test the technology.
“Spoken Rx is a positive step that offers same-day, access for prescriptions filled in CVS stores, allowing for a greater level of privacy, safety, and independence for blind and visually impaired customers of all ages,” said Kim Charlson, the immediate past president of the American Council of the Blind, in a statement. “We’re pleased about this addition to the existing braille, audio, and large print accessible prescription label offerings provided by CVS Caremark and CVS.COM.”
WHY THIS MATTERS
Approximately 12 million adults in the U.S. are visually impaired, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As time goes on, these numbers are only expected to go up as the population of older people increases, the CDC cites.
With this program, those with visual impairments will have access to important medical information like medication name, dosage and directions.
THE LARGER TREND
There have been many technological advancements in recent years to assist people with visual impairments.
San Diego-based Aira makes assistive wearables that harness artificial intelligence and augmented reality for people who are blind or who have low vision capabilities. In 2017, the company secured $12 million for its smart glasses that stream what a blind or visually impaired person would see to a remote agent for assistance.
OrCam has a series of devices that can look at objects, analyze them, and explain them to the user via an electronic voice. The company’s MyEye 2.0 can read text to the user, recognize up to 100 stored faces, identify products at the store based on packaging or bar codes, and identify the amounts of bills. It can even identify the colors of garments to assist with shopping.
In the realm of pharmaceuticals, AdhereTech created a smart pill bottle that encourages adherence through light signals, audible chimes and text message reminders.
ON THE RECORD
“The in-app feature gives patients more flexibility, providing the pertinent prescription information out loud wherever and whenever they need it,” Ryan Rumbarger said in a statement, the senior vice president of store operations at CVS Health. “Spoken Rx provides a more seamless experience to our patients who are visually impaired.”