Reports are showing an increase in the adoption of pharmacy automation. This can be attributed to the crackdown on the increasing number of preventable medical errors, which, according to an article on WhaTech.com, pharmacists and healthcare providers are being tasked to resolve. These types of errors accounted for over 400,000 deaths in 2014, third only to heart disease and cancer.
Pharmacy automation systems include the following:
- Automated medication dispensing cabinets
- Table-top tablet counters
- Automated compounding systems
- Automated packaging and labeling
- Storage and retrieval systems
Benefits of Automation
According to the WhaTech article, using pharmacy automation systems can prevent nearly 70% of medication errors. Their value lies in facilitating medication distribution, which reduces medical errors and increases patient safety.
Automated systems can also reduce pharmacy costs, which help mitigate rising drug prices and reduced reimbursement.
Automated Dispensing Cabinets
According to PP&P magazine’s State of Pharmacy Automation survey released in August 2015, 92% of hospitals use automated dispensing cabinets to improve safety and security at their facilities. Of those surveyed, 82% rate their cabinets as good or excellent—and 55% of users plan on expanding their cabinets’ capacity over the next three years.
Automated medication dispensing was the largest segment of automation in 2011. It was valued at $2.3 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow to $3.6 billion by 2018.
Another reason for the increase in adoption of pharmacy automation is an increase in budget. Of the health systems surveyed, 63% expect their budget to grow over the next three to five years.
As you would expect, the larger the hospital, the higher the automation budget. In facilities with 400+ beds, 49% enjoyed an automation budget of at least $500,000.
The Future of Pharmacy Automation
Most hospital and retail pharmacists believe in the power of automation to decrease medical errors and add value to their business. While a majority expects to focus increased budgets on expanding their investment in existing technology, new and exciting opportunities to adopt automation in areas such as the operating room and outpatient pharmacy will receive consideration as well. Reducing manual work and allowing additional time for patient care will lead to happier workers and more importantly, fewer preventable deaths.