The SFVAMC inpatient pharmacy recently moved from its upstairs location with a view of Ocean Beach, to the basement with twice the square footage. Here’s why pharmacy employees are excited about this change:
It’s the new technology and the robot. “We moved from a 1,300 square feet pharmacy on the third floor to a 2,700 square feet pharmacy in the basement,” said Chief of Pharmacy Service Donna Dare, Pharm.D. “I am personally excited to incorporate robotic technology in our new pharmacy.”
So, who’s the new robot? “Our new automated system includes a medicine-sorting robot called the Swisslog TCGRx Boxpicker,” said Inpatient Pharmacy Manager William Manley.
“We are the first VA pharmacy to partner with Swisslog TCGRx to use their Boxpicker inventory management system for drug storage,” said Dare. “It interfaces with our other pieces of automation, which leads to a more efficient workflow.”
The inpatient pharmacy is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to serve all inpatients in the hospital, the Community Living Center, and Emergency Department. And now it operates with high-technology automation that has shepherded an even higher level of accuracy, safety, security and service.
The automation helps improve medication accuracy and patient safety. For example, barcode medication recognition software scans a patient’s wristband, then scans the barcode on an ordered medication, and then matches that to the order before the medication is dispensed. "The automation helps us improve patient safety by including barcode scanning of all the medications, all the units of medication that leave the pharmacy, and we’ve never had that before,” said Manley. “Barcode medication recognition ensures we are sending the right medicine.”
“The automation also has great value to us in that it’s going to decrease drug wastage; it has an inventory management component where medicines closer to expiration dates are dispensed first, preventing waste,” said Manley. “We have an interface with the automation and our wholesaler, so when we get low on inventory, it automatically creates an order for us. It’s great!”
“It also helps us track expiration dates of medications,” said Manley. “It’s more time efficient and allows us a better use of our staff. We can devote them to more clinical ventures, instead of manually hunting and pulling expiring medications.“
This new automation has four components: procurement, patient safety, tracking expiration dates, and inventory management. “We can have less inventory on hand because the ordering is automated, so there’s less chance we’re going to run out, said Manley. “This system is much better and more fool-proof.”
Inpatient pharmacy employees have welcomed the expansion and new technology. “These are nice improvements,” said Manley, “and we are thankful to the Medical Center that they were able to devote the time, money, and effort to get us into a better place.”