The manager of a Wayne County hospital pharmacy says a robot named “Rex” has improved efficiency. The robot at Reid Hospital in Richmond contains the most commonly filled prescriptions, freeing up its human counterparts for patient counseling and inventory management. July 3, 2014
Richmond, Ind. — “Rex” the robot doesn't move from his spot in Reid Pharmacy, but he’s working hard and staying quite busy filling prescriptions and improving overall efficiency for the operation, said Brad Hester, Reid’s pharmacy director.
Pharmacy Manager Ben Austerman said the technology, installed in May, is already filling about half of the prescriptions and has made a noticeable impact – especially on those filled for patients being discharged from the hospital. “When technicians process discharge prescriptions from the patient bedside, the robot can fill them by the time the technician walks back down to the Pharmacy,” he said. “Once the pharmacist checks the prescription for accuracy, it can be delivered right back to the patient.” The Reid Pharmacy, which is not a retail establishment, provides services to patients being discharged and to Reid team members.
Rex – named in a department contest – is actually more like a stationary cabinet with almost 200 “cells” assigned to a specific drug and strength. When the prescription system sends an order to the robot, it grabs the correct sized vial and an “arm” moves to the corresponding cell where a small motor spins out the correct number of tablets. The count is measured by a laser mounted on the arm.
Austerman said the system has several layers of safety built in. “Each cell that is assigned to a medication has a bar code affixed to it. When a cell needs refilling, the robot displays that information,” he said, noting that corresponding bar codes on medicine bottles, along with verification by a pharmacist are all part of those layers. Staff also counts samples every day to be sure the numbers are correct.
The robot contains the most commonly filled prescriptions, so technicians and pharmacists now have more time to devote to entering prescriptions, patient counseling, quality checks and inventory management.
Source: Reid Hospital & Health Care Services