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New pharmacy robot speeding up drug dispensing service

Published 13/02/2018

Derby County owner Mel Morris today helped officially unveil Derby Teaching Hospitals' new pharmacy robot.   

Patients are now receiving their prescriptions faster than ever before, thanks to the new drug dispensing machine at the Royal Derby Hospital. 

The new Omnicell automated drug dispensary system is quicker, more secure, removes human error and provides 24 hour support to the hospital’s Pharmacy service to meet increasing demand. 

Mr Morris kindly donated £1.2 million to purchase a state of the art surgical robot for the hospital back in 2014 and expressed his delight at seeing further technological advances at the Trust.

He said: “I’m always amazed when I come to this hospital by the entrepreneurial spirit of the place and the way technology is embraced. This is a fantastic piece of equipment and I applaud everyone involved in bringing it to Derby. The whole project is exciting and is another example of technology helping improve healthcare. It is fantastic to see and will have a profound impact on patients by helping ensure the accuracy of drug prescriptions.” 

Staff can access the electronic drug cabinet via fingerprint, with the machine then relaying details of the prescription and directing them to the correct drug, so as to reduce the chance of a mistake taking place.  

After the drug is removed from the cabinet, it is then automatically reordered and selected from the shelves by a robot – therefore speeding up the process and allowing staff to spend more time with patients. 

The drug dispensary system allows controlled drug issues to be recorded electronically, rather than on a handwritten register like before, while it can also automatically reload stock throughout the night.   

Derby Teaching Hospitals Chief Pharmacist Clive Newman said: “The new system has allowed us to dispense drugs quicker than ever before. Providing an electronic drug register, instead of relying on a handwritten register, is just one of the ways the robot has saved staff time that can now instead be spent with patients. It also supports us to provide a 24/7 service and is helping us achieve our main target of ensuring patients are always provided with the right prescription by significantly reducing the chances of an error taking place.” 

The new robot has been in operation at the newly refurbished main dispensary since December, when it replaced the previous machine which was coming to the end of its life cycle.

A total of 28,682 drugs were dispensed from the main dispensary in December, while almost 13,000 drugs were also dispensed out of hours.

Pharmacy staff went above and beyond to continue to provide a 24/7 service from a temporary location in the hospital while the 8 week project went on to refurbish the main dispensary.

Their efforts were rewarded with a special Pride of Derby Award, which was presented to Chief Pharmacy Technician Rebecca Watkins, Principal Pharmacy Technician Nicki Ody, Dispensing Services Manager Lindsay Bennett and Senior Assistant Technical Officer Mohammed Zulkarnane.

Derby Teaching Hospitals Chief Executive Gavin Boyle said: “This is a prime example of cutting edge technology but it wouldn’t be possible without the people who work here. The scale of this project should not be underestimated and so many colleagues worked so hard to maintain this vital service while the dispensary was being redeveloped.”     

Last Modified 14/02/2018