A large public hospital in Singapore wished to automate its prescription dispensing process in its outpatient pharmacy. The hospital’s packing and assembling of prescription medications was labour intensive, time-consuming, and very dependent on trained manpower. The heavy reliance on manual resources also made it susceptible to human errors such as packing the wrong drug or wrong strength.
In view of this, the hospital decided to revamp its process and look towards the use of automation technology to improve its process. PSB Tech and its technology partners were subsequently engaged by the hospital to develop an automated system that would suit their needs.
As it was the first time that the hospital was moving away from human intervention and towards mechanical means of doing things, there was much apprehension regarding the ease of operation as well as the reliability of the system. PSB Tech and its partners worked closely with the hospital’s pharmacists to understand their needs, so as to alleviate their concern.
- • Incorporation of automation and technology to provide real time tracking of processing status via RFID
- • Intelligent conveyor system which consolidates multiple RFID-tagged baskets for the same prescription and optimize their delivery to the available front dispensing counters.
- • RFID readers along the conveyor provide real time tracking of the packed drugs.
PSB Tech and its technology partners successfully developed what could be considered the world’s first automated solution for a hospital’s outpatient pharmacy.
The intelligent system has enabled the hospital to almost halved its time to fill prescriptions, resulting in over 80% of patients being able to collect their medicines within 30 minutes. It has also enabled the hospital to reduce 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. It was estimated that the backroom lapse was reduced by at least 40%.
As a result of these improvements, the system won the hospital 2 major awards in 2014: the CIO Asia and the Allied Health Innovative Practice awards.