Make it happen in 2021 with a robot
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This year, the business landscape changed for everyone. Our speed, flexibility and ingenuity have all been tested and along the way, important lessons learned – providing significant insights when preparing for what hopefully will be a better 2021.
Many pharmacies faced the challenges of escalating prescriptions, staff shortages and social distancing by relying on automation to carry the load. Pandemics aside, the key features and benefits offered by a dispensing robot are undeniable and can play an important role when planning to expand; improve efficiency; reduce errors and increase safety; introduce new services; or streamline stock management.
Pharmacies leverage the advantages of automation for many different reasons. Bhamra Das at Witterings Pharmacy in Sussex, invested in a robot in order to grow his prescription business. However, once it was installed, he quickly realised that automation facilitates much broader expansion.
“By leaving the menial tasks to the robot, we can now make full use of the team’s skill set and refocus on more NHS and private services which can genuinely change the lives of our patients,” commented Bhamra. “Many pharmacists have no time for the jobs they trained for and become demoralised but now, I’m really looking forward to next year and using the newly available time to put all my skills to work. The team is also really happy and fully engaged in making a difference.”
Stephen McCormick operates an independent and unopposed Pharmacy in Drongan, Ayrshire. A recent move to new premises in the same village coincided with the retirement of three members of staff including a senior dispenser.
“We took the opportunity to change the staff skill mix and introduce a robot to optimise efficiency and reduce both stockholding and errors. Prescriptions are now dispensed quickly and accurately and the workplace is far more relaxed with the robot eradicating many of the daily stresses. Medication deliveries are quietly stored and stock rotated with dead items easily identified,” explained Stephen. “With no local competition, we were not expecting an increase in the 7,000 per month prescription business, but wanted to release staff to provide other services and this has proved very worthwhile.”
Driving new revenue
The UK pharmacy business model is undergoing a transformation driven by the community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF) in England.
All are designed to channel patients to the pharmacist as a first port of call for many minor ailments and health related services and this new direction will be key when defining future strategies. Automating the stockroom and dispensing function frees up floor space and staff resources which can be reallocated to new, more profitable services and revenue streams.
Pharmacists around the UK already have complete confidence in the accuracy and safety of the latest robots which use barcodes and scanning technology to ensure packs are correctly labelled and are tasking dispensary staff to complete the prescriptions. Pharmacists still carry out a clinical assessment but this process is quickly and efficiently managed via computer. Once again, reimagining legacy processes frees up valuable pharmacist time to handle other services.
The BD Rowa barcoding system is so accurate, robots have even been used as part of seasonal promotions – for example children picking barcode cards off a Christmas tree and taking them to the counter where they are used by staff to ‘dispense’ chocolate bars!
When planning for 2021 and beyond, it is certainly worth considering how a robot can help you achieve your goals. Offering a range of models featuring the same tried and tested technology, BD Rowa’s objective is to ensure pharmacies of any size can benefit from automated dispensing.
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