Heartlands and Solihull pharmacies have installed automated dispensing units that assist in the dispensing of inpatient and outpatient medication.

The automated robotic arms consist of 2 units and 2 picking heads as well as a stock replenishment function known as the Prolog per site.
The automated dispensing system means there are better turnaround times, reduced waste and fewer errors, resulting in a faster and more reliable service for patients.

The manual dispensing process would usually consist of a pharmacist checking the prescription order then a pharmacy technician or dispensing assistant, typing and printing a label, collecting the medicine from the shelves, dispensing the medication by counting the correct quantity, placing this into the appropriate medication container and then placing the instruction label on the container; make the appropriate checks and then sending out the medicine.

After a clinical check of the prescription, a request is made to the robot via the production of a label; sending the correct medication to the relevant workstation for labelling and a final accuracy check.

The robotic dispensing machines have been in place since November 2007 at Solihull and April 2008 at Heartlands which has allowed some staff previously involved in the dispensing process to be released to support patients and staff at ward level with medication-related queries.

A similar system is being considered to be in place at Good Hope Hospital hopefully in the near future.

Prescription Tracking System

The dispensaries on all sites utilise an electronic prescription tracking system to monitor workflow patterns and turnaround times providing information to all ward areas.

Controlled Drugs Automation

The Pharmacy also has automated controlled drugs cabinets at both the Heartlands and Good Hope sites, which have replaced the need for paper registers and provides assurance of access via fingerprint technology.