31 March 2016

Drug dispensary moves into the robotic age

A systematic robotic inventory management system collecting and dispensing drugs
Rowa in action at Fiona Stanley Hospital

On any one morning at Fiona Stanley Hospital, nurses administer 5000 doses of medication.

Each day, more than $200,000 of drugs are purchased, received and distributed to more than 100 treatment areas throughout the hospital.

What’s more, 3000 unique drugs are stocked – high-cost, highly-specialised drugs that require expert advice, handling and monitoring to ensure the correct and safe dosage for patients.

All this is achieved by what is the most sophisticated drug inventory management system in the southern hemisphere.

At the centre of the $7 million system are robots, called Rowa.

These robots scan, move and store medications within the Pharmacy department from the time they are delivered to the hospital to when they are required on the wards.

They stack medication packs with precision, enabling the Pharmacy to make the best use of all the available space for the storage of drugs.

The robots are precise and fast. In just a few seconds, pharmacists have the medications required at the preparation area.

The pharmacy robots at Fiona Stanley Hospital have converted most of the manual tasks associated with drug inventory management to be automated.

This has significant benefits for staff and patients.

Staff, particularly nurses, can spend less time on controlled substance tracking and reporting, looking for keys and drugs, and less time on manually checking the controlled drug inventory for stock on hand. Nurses can then spend more time delivering better patient care.

Find out more about Fiona Stanley Hospital's automated pharmacy solution (PDF 188KB).