Robotic Dispensing: Way of the Future
The pharmaceutical industry has experienced considerable change in recent years, in particular increasing pressure from budget pharmacies. With supermarkets stocking a larger range of pharmacy items, there has never been a more important time for pharmacies to look at their processes and systems and look to adapt to compete and lower the costs of delivering their services.
Recent changes to laws have led to a rise in operating costs and a decrease in profit margins. The pharmacy industry is more competitive than ever, experiencing significant technological advancements, major reforms and regulators. Online pharmacies are also having an impact on traditional brick and mortar stores, reducing the number of customers coming through their doors.
To combat this, pharmacies have started focusing on customer experience, and bringing the pharmacists out onto the floor. To do this, robotic dispensing technology has seen heavy adoption. This isn’t new technology, in fact it has been used in a variety of hospitals and pharmacies since the 1990s, in an effort to improve patient safety, reduce medication errors and save costs.
So does this mean pharmacists being replaced by robots? Not exactly, the pharmacists role goes above dispensing medication, they play a more significant role in the community. By introducing a robotic system into their pharmacy, they can come out from behind the station and be involved with the customers offering advice, creating health plans, improving health solutions and outcomes etc.
A growing number of pharmacies around the world are installing robotic dispensing systems, in an effort to optimise their practises.
The robotic dispensing system works by automating time-consuming and routine tasks by actually driving the workflow, completing tasks such as packaging, medication compounding, labelling, storage and retrieval, and dispensing. The system streamlines the outpatient and inpatient drug dispensing process by ensuring the correct drug reaches the right patient at the right time. They are able to streamline the workflow in the pharmacy, allowing the staff to focus their attention directly on customers. Robotic dispensing can fill 60% of daily volume.
As mentioned above there are many benefits to introducing a robotic dispensary system to a pharmacy. They can be costly to install, and are not without risk, however over time the system pays for itself. Robotic picking isn’t about reducing the headcount, instead it allows the headcount to be used more efficiently throughout the pharmacy. Many pharmacies are already seeing the benefits of installing these systems.