Robots employed by pharmacy
ROBERT STEVEN Robots have arrived in Taupo¯ , but luckily, their faculties are limited to counting pills.
Unichem Main Street and Taupo¯ Health Centre’s pharmacy have brought in CRETEM dispensing robots from South Korea.
Pharmacist Ayman Ibousi said pharmacists enter a prescription into the computer and the robots automatically dispense the specified number of pills into a container, like a vending machine.
‘‘Some people are on 180 of those [pills], 120 of those, so it allows us to be with the patient more,’’ he said.
‘‘We can now concentrate on checking the prescription and on counselling the patient, rather than counting.’’
Previously, finding, counting and dispensing pills took between 2 and 5 minutes per patient. When 100+ patients are served in a day, this equates to hours of time saved, Ilbousi said.
The ‘robot’ vending machines keep track of all pills dispensed, too, he said.
‘‘You can’t really make a mistake on there. It keeps track of all the dispenses for audits, so it’s very kosher as well.’’
While the machines cannot talk or walk, they are considered robots in the pharmacy world.
‘‘If you say you have a robot, pharmacists will know what you mean,’’ the University of Otagoeducated pharmacist said.
‘‘Most pharmacies [in New Zealand] will have them, but we’re the first in Taupo¯ .’’
Electronic prescriptions may be offered sometime in the future, the Ilbousi said.
‘‘One piece of cool technology we have currently is the Pharminder repeat system, which automatically text customers about repeats and reminds people about medicine which is going to expire.’’
The best part about being a pharmacist in Taupo¯ was the variety of work, he said.
‘‘I love seeing the impact that we have on patients lives.
‘‘My profession allows me to help the most vulnerable.’’
Unichem Main Street pharmacist Ayman Ilbousi says the Cretem MTC dispensing machine (left) will save hours on counting pills.