Robot dispensing pills at Geelong Hospital

ROBOTICS and pills are unusual new bedfellows set to save Barwon Health $250,000 a year.
Geelong Hospital is the first Australian hospital to install an advanced robotic system for dispensing medications.
Barwon Health expects big savings from the system through reduced stock storage, freeing up staff for other jobs and cutting after-hours demand.
Moving faster than a speeding pharmacist and with an impressive whirring sound, it selects drugs based on product barcodes, eliminating human error in the selection and restocking processes.
Barwon Health pharmacy director Greg Weeks expected medication safety improvements, financial savings and overall process efficiencies.
“The dispensary in the acute site dispenses an average of 3270 outpatient, 3250 inpatient and 10,000 discharge prescriptions items a month,” he said.
“Staff workflows have adjusted to the new functionality. Interfacing with pharmacy software was a key hurdle to overcome but teamwork and commitment by all parties has seen a successful robot implementation.”
In the pharmacy, orders are placed on a conveyor belt and the robot automatically handles the stock. It can also spit out orders for wards through a ward box system.
Stocktake can be carried out at the press of a button. The system also uses short-dated stock first and can report regularly on expiry dates.
The technology also allows the hospital’s on-call pharmacist to remotely release stock to an after-hours cupboard for nurse coordinators to access, helping reduce recall payments costs.