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Automation in drug dispensing and administration

Once a prescription is ordered, it needs to be dispensed before going to the patient. Dispensing process can be a labor-intensive work for pharmacists. With the help of technology, several types of automated dispensing machines developed over time. For instance, Unit dose packaging dispensing machine, Automated dispensing cabinets, Pharmacy dispensing robots, or automated compounding machines. The application of these technologies have changed the dispensing and operation model of a pharmacy significantly. While the practice model varies, the central idea behind these renovations are the same, which is to reduce the labor and time spent and in the meanwhile increase the accuracy of the dispensing process. This further frees pharmacists to have time to provide more patient-centered clinical care.
Selecting and implementing the kind of automated machines that fits your pharmacy’s needs are important. For example, while automated cabinets, which are decentralized medication storage and dispensing machines, generally located at nurse stations and provide medication at the point of care, this seems to be a labor saving and time efficient way of medication distribution, But the cost of these cabinets are very high and requires good collaboration between pharmacists and nurses, since it also changes the workflow of nurses in a great deal. And pharmacy robots usually takes up a lot of space, and therefore may not be suitable for space-limiting facilities. There’s no machine that is the best.
One should carefully evaluate the pros and cons and how to modify and incorporate into your workflow before making the decision on embracing which kind of automated dispensing assistance. In the process of medication administration, which is usually performed by nurses at bed-side, errors are common especially in hospitals and often occur during order transcription or administration of medication, either with wrong patient or wrong medication. To help prevent such errors, technology has been developed to verify medications by incorporating bar-code verification technology within an electronic medication-administration system or the bar-code eMAR. Traditionally, medication orders placed by physicians are manually transcribed to the paper medication-administration record, which is then used by nurses to determine when and what medications to give to which patient.
With the bar-code eMAR, medication orders transmitted to the patient’s electronic record, and can further make alerts when a patient’s medication is overdue. At bedside, the use of bar-code technology to verify a patient’s identity and the medication to be administered is a promising strategy for preventing medication errors, and its use has been increasing over the past decade. Bar-code medication verification is usually implemented in conjunction with an electronic MAR system, allowing nurses to automatically document and log the administered drugs simply by means of bar-code scanning. In summary, Computerized medication profiles improve the efficiency and safety of the medication-use system by improving legibility and reducing transcription errors.
structured patient drug profile, medication inventory management and automated dispensing, which further frees pharmacists from mechanical work and allows us to focus more on clinical services. Pharmacy informatics not only help with the operational tasks but also clinical services. For the clinical area, the utility of information system also helps pharmacists to gain more access to patients information. Pharmacists can more easily partner with other professions to provide patient centered care. Documentation of clinical pharmacy activity is also a crucial part in providing clinical services.
While paper forms and written documentation may be cumbersome, time consuming, easily lost or unreadable and difficult to compile now information technology facilitates documentation of pharmacists’ interventions and patient care services with the benefit of time efficiency, and easily accessed by other health professionals, and thus promoting communication and collaborations. Medication errors are common and often lead to patient harm. And The most important improvement seen with technology and automation is increased safety. Errors can occur at any stage of the medication use process. A survey conducted in 2010 reveals that of all the serious medication errors, around one-third of them occur during prescribing and ordering, another third during medication administration, around 12% are transcription errors, and 11% are dispensing errors.
With the help of information systems, For example, CPOE has been shown to reduce the incidence of serious medication errors by 55%. Using bar-code medication scanning during dispensing process leads to 67% reduction in dispensing error. And, during bedside medication administration, using Bar-code technology to verify both patient’s identity and the medication to be given can significantly reduce potential errors by 51%. And, because the eMAR imports medication orders electronically from either the physician’s order entry or the pharmacy system, its implementation may completely eliminates the potential transcription errors.

Besides a computerized system, machines, like the previously mentioned ADC, can also reduce the labor required.

Selecting the right system and machine can boost a pharmacy’s efficiency greatly. Ms Chen continues to mention how the barcode eMAR, combined with well documented pharmacy informatics can reduce errors in prescription, dispensing and administration.

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Good Pharmacy Practice: Introduction to Medication Delivery Systems

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