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Daniel Alexander
November 21, 2022

Stephen Eckel and Robert Hubal

UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s Stephen Eckel, Pharm.D., M.H.A. and Robert Hubal, Ph.D., a research scientist at RENCI, are working together to reduce occurrences of contamination in compounding pharmacies using artificial intelligence. 

A partnership with QleanAir, along with previous grant support from the Eshelman Institute for Innovation (EII), will drive their work forward. 

“As a Global company with a focus in healthcare, we are dedicated to protecting people, products, and processes. We are pleased to support the development of tomorrow’s technology to improve upon patient safety, drive operational compliance, and to enhance sterile compounding practices” said Amanda Myers, chief commercial officer at QleanAir Scandinavia. 

Eckel and Hubal are developing a technology that focuses on assessing an individual’s aseptic technique when preparing a compounded sterile product. Aseptic technique is the set of rules put in place to minimize the potential of contaminating a sterile product when pharmacists are compounding medications. 

By using the funds from EII, Eckel and Hubal have developed a solution that tracks both the compounding products and hand movements of individuals when they are compounding sterile products by utilizing multiple video cameras placed under a sterile compounding hood. Artificial intelligence will then compare those movements against established best practices. 

“Following the completion of each product preparation, individuals would receive performance reports, including any breaches of technique and steps to resolve for future preparations,” Hubal said. 

Ideally, the feedback would be used for a variety of reasons, including training new individuals, ongoing competency of personnel who prepare sterile products, or providing documentation to regulators to demonstrate ongoing quality assurance within the pharmacy. 

“Our goal is to reduce the possibility of human error that can potentially occur when compounding medications,” Eckel said. “Ultimately, through this developed technology we have the ability to keep patients safe through appropriate aseptic technique, which is not doable within the current state of practice.” 

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