he shortage of pharmaceutical personnel has had a significant impact on the delivery of pharmaceutical services and the ability to provide continuous availability of medicines in the public sector. Scaling up access to antiretroviral therapy from the current level of 2-million patients to the required 3.5-million patients requires a step-change in medicine supply-chain management. Innovative strategies are needed to maximise the availability of medicines.
Robotic pharmacy automation technology is an innovative approach to addressing these challenges. It can optimise improve supply-chain efficiencies, optimise the use of pharmacy personnel, and make medicines available in a controlled secure environment at reduced cost. All this can be done while maintaining patient convenience and safety.
Moreover, automation can ease overcrowding at high volume facilities, reduce waiting times for patients, and this improves patient adherence to medication and retention in care. Wider economic benefits are also achieved through minimising time off from work for employed patients.
Automated Pharmacy Dispensing Unit
To increase adherence we need to empower the patient
With the goal to empower stable patients to manage their own health care, Right to Care has designed and prototyped an ATM like device. The pharmacy dispensing unit (PDU) will enable patients to visit locations that are convenient to them to pick up prescribed medication. All collected medications will be recorded against a central patient record.
Themba Lethu Clinic
Reducing waiting time from 4 hours to 45 minutes for medication
Themba Lethu Clinic is situated at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg where we have built an integrated pharmacy (Trimed®) and patient management (TherapyEdge®) systems to streamline operations.
Studies showed that:
- Prescriptions were manually captured three times
- High waiting times at the clinician and pharmacy stations
- Two-thirds of patients were at the clinic only to collect medication
A programme was implemented, in 2013, to ensure patient and prescription data flowed seamlessly between different platforms and technology system.
Goals attained in automating the pharmacy process:
- Shorten waiting times at the pharmacy
- Improve quality of prescriptions
- Reduce stick shrinkage
- Enable accurate medications picking
Creation, validation and dispensing of prescriptions are electronically managed by Trimed® with no need to shuffle and store paperwork in a busy clinic. Pharmacy staff members are able to spend more time on patient counselling and monitoring activities, thereby improving treatment adherence and healthcare outcomes.
Revolution of the public sector pharmacy
Working with the Department of Health and our global donors we have secured funding to roll pharmacy automation. Beginning in 2016 Right ePharmacy will spearhead projects to implement this proven technology into 4 hospitals in Gauteng.