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Automated Pharmacy System Cuts Time And Errors At Singapore Hospital
Source: http://www.futuregov.asia/articles/2014/mar/14/automated-pharmacy-system-cuts-time-and-errors-sin/
Source Date: Friday, March 14, 2014
Focus: Citizen Engagement, Internet Governance
Country: Singapore
Created: Mar 14, 2014

Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) Outpatient Pharmacy system, the world’s first such automated solution in a hospital, has halved the time to fill prescriptions, reduced manpower, and reduced errors.

SGH is Singapore’s largest and oldest hospital with approximately 1700 beds.

Implemented by SGH and Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), the Health Ministry’s IT arm, the Automated RFID Prescription Drug Delivery System (APDS) consists of a pharmacy dispensing workflow system and software that optimises processes, a drug dispensing system that controls machines that pick, pack and label drugs, a LED light guiding system for manual drug picking, and a RFID-enabled conveyor which transports, auto-assembles and channels packed items to the front dispensing counters.

Today, prescriptions received are tagged, reviewed by pharmacists, and then dropped into a RFID-tagged basket on a conveyor to trigger the packing process. Drug dispensing robots automatically pick and drop medicines into labelled plastic bags.

Concurrently, for medicines that require manual picking, Pharmacy staff scan the drugs’ barcodes. LED lights above the right container then blink to guide staff to pick the correct drug.

Packed medicines are placed into RFID-tagged baskets on a 110-metre conveyor. RFID readers along the conveyor provide real time tracking of the drugs.

Once all baskets with medicines for the same prescription are detected on the conveyor, they are auto-assembled and channelled to the next available dispensing counter, based on the queue order.

The intelligent system evenly distributes tasks to the robots and manual processing stations, while control software consolidate multiple RFID-tagged baskets for the same prescription and optimise their delivery to the available front dispensing counters.

This intelligent system at SGH Outpatient Pharmacy has almost halved the time to fill prescriptions, so that over 80 per cent of patients can get their medicines within 30 minutes.

It has also reduced the manpower to pick and pack drugs by 11 persons. The staff are instead re-deployed to run more front dispensing counters to serve 50 per cent more patients.

More importantly, the system has improved patient safety by enabling pharmacists to review all prescriptions and by reducing drug packing errors.

IHiS Chief Executive Officer, Dr Chong Yoke Sin, said: “The Pharmacy system is in line with Singapore’s commitment to drive innovation to manage rising costs and improve productivity in our Regional Health Systems.

“IHiS is now working with other public hospitals to implement similar highly automated Outpatient Pharmacy systems,” Chong added.

SGH Pharmacy Director Lim Mun Moon, said: “The intelligent system transforms high volume prescription filling. We have achieved efficiency gains and higher standards of practice by re-distributing critical resources and including patient-centred safety features into our work processes.”

“The solution addresses the challenges of busy hospital Outpatient Pharmacies worldwide who are seeking to enhance patient safety, shorten prescription filling times, increase capacity and reduce reliance on trained staff,” concluded Lim.
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