There are many drivers for using automation in a community pharmacy setting. Increasing dispensing capacity, reducing costs, reduction in dispensing errors, improving access to medication and supporting patient adherence. Each of these benefits allows pharmacists and technicians to spend more time in patient facing activities.
As an IT solutions partners, our role is to work with our customers to understand how new solutions fit within their businesses; how pharmacy could and should integrate solutions with their core dispensing system and what steps should be taken to ensure that any integration safeguards the critical sensitive data that may be shared.
Dispensing robots take medication requests from the PMR and provide it to a workstation via chutes or conveyor belts. They can use either a picking head or channel model and have optional facilities to label medication before presenting it to the operator. We have well proven interfaces to all of the main suppliers, including robots that pack medication into MDS trays or medication pouches.
Dispensing robots can require considerable up front capital investment and have traditionally been used in bigger, busier, pharmacies. Increasingly group pharmacies are deploying them in a hub and spoke solution so that the cost can be amortised across multiple sites that would not individually merit a robot.
Liquid Dispensing Robots
With the increasing use of peristaltic pump products for the dispensing of methadone liquid, there has been significant interest in driving these units directly from the PMR (rather than double entering into a separate laptop). The arrival of electronic controlled drug register (eCDR) functionality in PMRs is making this combined solution very attractive to pharmacies with high numbers of methadone patients and we are at an advanced stage in delivering this solution.
Self Dispensing Robots
Improving patient access to medication out of hours is the next class of automation to cover. These units allow patients to attend outside of pharmacy opening hours and pick up their prescriptions. Facilities exist to text a PIN to the patient and take any necessary payments. This “Amazon Locker” type model is equally useful in the 24-hour culture of the big city and in low population density rural areas where delivery models are not viable.
As the role of pharmacy changes, automation is going to become increasingly important, be it in the pharmacy, a hub, or in the hands of the patient. Cegedim Rx is committed to the seamless integration of PMR and automation for all our customers.