Ireland’s first robotic pharmacy deployed


10 Jan 2006

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Dublin technology company Systems Solutions has deployed the first robotic solution for pharmacies in Ireland that will enable safe and efficient dispensing. The company says the solution has a particular relevancy in the current Irish healthcare crisis whereby pharmacists are required to spend more time with patients than ever before.

The company has developed a software interface between its flagship pharmacy solution QicScript and ARX’s automated dispensing machine Rowa Speedcase. In creating a seamless integration between the two systems, Systems Solutions will help Irish pharmacies to minimise dispensing errors and more tightly control their dispensary activities.

Shannon’s Pharmacy in Rosemount, Dublin, has become the first pharmacy to implement a system of its type in Ireland. Criofan Shannon, pharmacist and proprietor of Shannon’s Pharmacy, explained his reasons for purchasing the robot. “One of the main reasons why I got the Rowa Speedcase was to enhance the safety of and speed up the dispensing process. This system gives me exactly what I’ve entered into our QicScript pharmacy system. With a move towards full original pack dispensing, it’s much more efficient.”

Essentially, the interface eliminates the need for pharmacists to duplicate the entry of prescription items into their system, QicScript and the robotics machine. Not only does this save pharmacy time, it also eliminates human intervention in picking drugs, increasing the accuracy of the dispensing process, thus reducing the potential for dispensing errors to occur. In addition, both systems synergise in terms of setting, storing and maintaining tighter levels of stock, increasing the economic and productive efficiency of the pharmacy.

Shannon said: “It means that I can set a minimum level of stock that I can keep on the premises and use QicScript to maintain this level by alerting me as to when items need to be re-ordered. This gives me greater control over the stockholding and re-ordering processes. I also get a true rotation of stock because I know the first pack into the system is the first pack out.”

Tom Simcox, chief executive of ARX, said that his company and Systems Solutions are working with store layout consultants Anderson Retail Consultants and shop fitters Lux Ladenbau to deploy the model across Europe, where there is increasing pressure for providing an increased level of patient care with the same resources.

David Raethorne, technical director of Systems Solutions, explained: “In the current healthcare crisis, Irish pharmacists are required to spend more time with patients now than ever before. This places significant time and workload pressures on already busy pharmacists, increasing the potential for dispensing errors.

“By automating more of the dispensary tasks, pharmacists can confidently and safely spend more time counselling and advising patients on how to effectively manage their conditions and therapies. We believe that pharmacy has an even stronger role to play in healthcare and we fully support this by developing software that makes this a reality.”

By John Kennedy