Gauteng has some of the most advanced pharmacies on the continent at Steve Biko and Helen Joseph public hospitals. Due to the shortage of pharmacy staff in South Africa, Gauteng Health and Right ePharmacy installed robotic pharmacies to support the pharmacists and patients at some of the busiest pharmacies in the country.
These jaw-dropping operations are the pharmacies of the future and use robots and advanced technology to record, store, pick, and dispense medication based on a computerised script. As South Africa gears up for an explosion of Covid-19 cases, these facilities will be able to service the expected increased patient influx quickly and accurately and assist the existing pharmacy staff to cope.
Fanie Hendriksz, managing director of Right ePharmacy, says, “There’s a shortage of pharmacists and pharmacy assistants in South Africa so these pharmacies of the future help to scale up service delivery. In fact, since these in-pharmacy innovations have been installed, we’ve seen an increase of 30% capacity in servicing patients. Pharmacists capture scripts on an integrated software system which then activates the robotic dispensing unit to select, and dispense the medication needed for patients. It’s fast, reduces errors and increases stock management and most importantly the pharmacists are able to provide better, more compassionate service.”
Steve Biko Hospital showcases the largest in-pharmacy automation solution in South Africa, seeing over 700 patients a day. Helen Joseph Hospital sees between 900 and 1000 patients daily.
The integrated pharmacy and patient management system streamlines operations for patients needing acute and chronic medication also ensuring that there are fewer errors in times of high pressure. Pharmacy staff capture prescriptions and maintain accurate records electronically.
Because of the advanced record keeping, these pharmacies can then track stock levels so that trends can be better catered for and patients have a better experience when they visit.
The software triggers a robotic arm to accurately select and dispense up to 3 900 items an hour. The areas where medicines are stored needs minimal floor space and can hold up to 28 000 items at a time. The stores are automatically refilled and stocks can be replenished after hours by the robotics. It also allows accurate stock control and forecasting so that stock outs and expired stocks are minimised.
All facilities have back-up systems in place to make sure the pharmacy never stops with back-up power and efficient technical support.
In the coming weeks, Right ePharmacy will announce further innovations to offer increased convenience for public service patients.