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How to automate in the pharmaceutical sector

A pharmacist needs to consider many working factors in order to make the right decisions around automation. Here we list the key points:
Also, how much time is required for routine and maintenance and equipment servicing? Does the company provide full-service, routine and emergency software and hardware maintenance? What is the cost of this maintenance and how is it provided? Will the routine maintenance disrupt the workflow? Also, how secure is the system? Is training interactive computer-based? And how will new users between on the system?
Is the automation compatible with the organization’s strategic goals? Is the company willing to guarantee a maximum percent down time? Is the system compatible with existing information systems? Has the company interlaced their system with your pharmacy computer system in another organization? If not, what is the cost for building this interface? And who maintains interface? What do existing customers say about the accuracy and reliability of the system, ease-of-use, and scheduled downtime? What impact will the automation have on their departments? How are those departments involved in the selecting process? What impacts of automation have on patient safety? What impact will the system have on controlled substance accountability and overall inventory control? What sets the company’s product apart from their major competitors?
Will the automation enable that provision of new Clinical Services? Will the vendor adopted the technology to meet your needs, goes, objectives rather than expect your system redesigned to fit their product? Where the vendors provide you with a list of all current users? Will the vendors training and implementation support meet your expectations and needs? Also, pharmacists need to ensure the system preform accuracy and also could reduce errors. Automation has the potential to reduce medication errors, but technology by itself will rarely prevent medication errors. Rather, it must be effectively integrated into the existing medication-use system and appropriately managed. So, dedicated professionals are needed to manage and oversee implementation, training, quality assurance, and ongoing support and maintenance.
Automation can instill a false sense of security and carelessness in leaders and healthcare professionals. The automation could cause professionals to neglect sound practices such as double- and triple-checking medication orders. And pharmacists need to advocate for adequate processes, training of personnel, staffing, and quality control checks. The following specific features would be desirable for reducing errors. Barcoding of medications should be maximized throughout the medication use process, especially the dispensing and administration phrases. And information Technologies need to be integrated to provide the necessary information about the total care of patients. For example, CPOE systems need to be integrated or interfaced with laboratory and pharmacy systems. And pharmacists should have oversight of the dispensing process for automated dispensing systems.
Also, pharmacists must have input into clinical decision support protocols regarding medication use. Automation need to free pharmacist for clinical activities that enhance the safety of patients. And regarding of whether or not state regulations exist to assure safe use of technology, every healthcare organization needs to develop, enforce, and continuously improve multidisciplinary policies and procedures associated with patient safety. A system must accommodate bar-coded unit dose medications and utilize the bar code capability for drug restocking, retrieval, and administering medications. A system should force the user to specify a reason whenever medications are assessed or administered outside of the schedule and administration time or dosage range.
All such events are signaled visibly or audibly to the user and are electronically documented and reported daily for a follow-up. A unique barcode or user identification code and password are assigned to each user, audit trails of user actions must be reported in an easily viewed format and should include identification of the user, the medication, the patient for whom the drug was dispensed, and a time of the transaction. Bar code medication administration systems must be able to identify and document the patient, the medications, and the person administering using the scanning technology function. Devices are interlaced with the pharmacy computer system only allowing the nurse to view and access those medications that are ordered for a specific patient.
Devices needed electronic reminders to user, the nurses when a medication dose is due and buy or through a different mechanism when it is past due. Hospital admit/discharge/transfer a medication order entry computer systems are interlaced with automation devices to provide caregivers with warning about allergies, interactions, duplications, and inappropriate dozes at the point of dispensing and/or administration. Patient specific information need in the daily care of patients must be timely, accurate, and easily accessible. Pertinent patient and medication specific information and instruction entered into pharmacy in/or hospital information system are available electronically at the point of care, and the system prompts the nurse to record pertinent information before administration may be documented.
Real-time integration or interlaces exist for all steps in the medication-use process, starting at the point of prescribing, to order entry and dispensing, and through documentation of medication administration. Automation will more or less impact the pharmacy manpower currently. And we expect it will change the use of the manpower and the amount of manpower required for pharmacy in the future. The major concern a lot of people has when they face the automation is that the increased use of automation coupled with expansion of the use of pharmacy technicians could reduce the demand of pharmacists.
But the true is that efficiencies in automation have been offset by increased demand for pharmacy personnel due to aging population, and also organizational recognition of value of clinical pharmacists, so pharmacists’ role is important. And the institution will increase the hiring of pharmacists and also soaring number and complexity of medications used in hospitals. Automation provides pharmacists with opportunities to be more involved with direct patient care, pharmacists will need to advocate for and promote the value of pharmacist patient care services to physicians and administrators. In this way, the inevitability of continued automation of dispensing process,
future work activities of pharmacists depending primary on 4 things:
number one: the breadth of tasks a pharmacy technician is legally allowed to perform. The extent to which pharmacists are reimbursed for medication therapy management services and the level of productivity that can be achieved through automated systems. Finally, the extent to which pharmacists are able to demonstrate improved quality and overall lower cost of patient care as a result of their role on the patient care team. The future roles of pharmacy personnel as a result of automation could be the transformation from distributor of drugs to cognitive provider of care.
So, future roles of pharmacists could be following three of them: the drug therapy management, the improvement of the quality and safety of drug distribution and administration, and focus on the majority of time on issues related high-risk drugs and high-cost diseases. So, working more in virtual world of electronic information management where they never even touch a drug or paper prescription. And also, clinical pharmacists in virtual world, they could assess patient compliance and medication-related outcomes. They could have drug and disease education to the patient, and also provide the intervention to the medical teams. In this way, in the future, we could avoid displacement of pharmacists by automation. And this should be kept in mind in every pharmacist currently facing automation.

A pharmacist needs to consider many working factors in order to make the right decisions around automation. Here we list the key points:


  • Maintenance and servicing
  • User Training
  • Compatibility with strategic goals
  • Cost for implementing existing informatic systems interface
  • Existing customer survey
  • Impact on patient safety
  • Impact on controlled substances
  • Options from other competitors
  • Possible new clinical services
  • Meet your needs rather than redesign current system to fit
  • Current users
  • Vendors training support

Pharmacists also need to ensure the system performs accurately with minimal errors.

This can be achieved by:

  • Effectively integrating automation into the existing medication-use system
  • Hire dedicated professionals
  • Advocate adequate training, staffing, work procedures and checks
  • Barcode label medications should be maximized
  • Information technologies integration
  • Pharmacists must oversee dispensing process despite automation
  • Pharmacists must input into clinical decision support protocols
  • Freeing pharmacists to carry out clinical activities
  • Improve and enforce patient safety protocols

There are certain safety features that should be considered:

  • Barcode system
  • User should be alerted after every unusual event
  • Unusual events should be documented and reported daily for a follow-up.
  • Each user should have a unique identification code
  • Audit trails of user actions must be reported
  • Identify patient, medications, administer details of every administration
  • Devices should be interlaced with the pharmacy computer systems
  • Reminders for when a medication dose is due
  • Warn caregivers about possible allergies, interactions, duplications etc.
  • Patient specific information must be timely, accurate, and easily accessible
  • Information system made available electronically at the point of care
  • Real-time integration for all steps in the medication-use process

There were concerns about automation reducing the need for pharmacists. However, in reality this is the opposite due to aging population, increased recognition of pharmacists’ value and increasing complexity of medication used in hospitals.

Automation allows pharmacists to be more involved with direct patient care. Pharmacists need to advocate their own value to physicians and administrators.

The future role of pharmacists depends on:

  • Breadth of tasks pharmacy technician can legally perform
  • Reimbursed for medication therapy management services
  • Productivity of automated systems
  • Extent which pharmacists can improve quality and overall lower cost of patient care

Future roles of pharmacists my include the following:


  • Drug therapy management
  • Electronic information management
  • Assess patient compliance and medication-related outcomes
  • Patient education
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Good Pharmacy Practice: Pharmaceutical Services

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