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Pharmacy information technology

The department has been extensively modernised in recent years with the introduction of the latest pharmacy system iPharmacy (from iSoft) and a robotic MEDIMAT dispensing system (from MACH4 in Germany). Together these systems deliver a safe and efficient dispensing service to all patients both on the wards and visiting outpatient clinics.

Mobile computers

Out and about on the wards, pharmacists and technicians have access to the most up to date information by using mobile tablet computers connected via the hospital wireless network. Access to all the pharmacy systems from these tablet PCs means that ordering medicines is fast and efficient, ensuring that there are minimal delays in patients receiving their medicines.

Remote on-call

When the pharmacy is closed there is always an on-call pharmacist available for advice. They can log onto the computer system remotely from home and access all the pharmacy systems. They can even deliver medicines from the robot to a secure area in the pharmacy. These are then collected by the nurses, ensuring that patients are never without urgent medicines.

Pharmacy robot

The pharmacy robot is a MACH4 (Westfalia) MEDIMAT system, and can hold 15,000 packs, up to 3,000 different products, identified by their barcodes.

It is connected to the computerised iPharmacy prescription and stock control system, and handles dispensings and ward box distributions. The pharmacy technician simply inputs the prescription details onto the computer, and within 10 seconds, the robot locates the product, picks it, and dispenses it to the technician via a chute at their desk.

Associated speedboxes hold fast moving lines.

An automatic fill-in system is used to load the robot. Bulk deliveries of products are placed on the fill-in box conveyor belt, and each pack is individually scanned to determine its identity. It is stored away, and its location recorded, so it can be retrieved when needed.

Advantages of this are:

  • Reduces waiting time for both outpatients and discharged patients.
  • Safety - as the packs are stored and picked via their bar code, the system is 100% accurate and dramatically reduces the potential for human error.
  • Frees up pharmacy staff resources, so that staff have more time to visit patients on the wards and ensure that the correct drugs are prescribed.
  • Allows out-of-hours remote dispensing by on-call pharmacist.
  • Stock control is improved, inventory is minimised and wastage reduced. Storage space is just a third of the room originally taken by the manual system.

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