The Western Cape Department of Health (DoH) issued a tender for two robotic dispensing systems. The plan is to implement the robots in the pharmacy departments at Groote Schuur Hospital (for outpatients) and Tygerberg Hospital (for outpatients and discharge).

Auto-dispensing robots use automation to accelerate and modernise dispensing services. Pharmacy robots are still a relatively new concept in South Africa but in other countries where their use is wide-spread, pharmacy robotics has been shown to reduce errors, improve the speed and accuracy of the dispensing process and optimise use of space in the pharmacy. Automated dispensing methods also allow medication supplies to be easily tracked from supplier to patient, resulting in improved patient safety and management.

Pharmacy robots handle high volumes of dispensing in busy pharmacies faster than is possible by humans, and as a result free up pharmacists’ and pharmacy staff time − allowing them more time to focus on patients and deliver improved services. As newer, faster and more efficient healthcare-related robotics become available, robot use in all sectors of pharmacy is destined to increase.

On 5th March a briefing session and site-visits took place where interested parties were briefed about the DoH’s requirements for robotic stock control and high-volume picking for dispensing at the pharmacy departments of the two hospitals. The successful bidder for the robotic solution will be required to manage the implementation and interface to the JAC Medicines Management Platform which covers the entire province.

We spoke to Jonathan Mills, JAC’s South African representative, who commented, “Intelligent, robotic-automation has the potential to transform hospital dispensaries in South Africa as they have around the world. Having invested in building a core medicines management platform over the past three years, the DoH is now able to look at these newer more advanced technologies to increase efficiency further and provide a better service for patients.”

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Full disclosure: Jonathan Mills is also the founder of eHealthNews.co.za.