US robot pharmacies deliver prescription drugs fast

March 13th, 2011 - 11:07 am ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, March 13 (IANS/EFE) In their effort to provide faster service to patients, a chain of low-cost clinics on the west coast of the US has installed robot pharmacies that deliver prescription drugs.

“In cases of infection, the time patients start taking their medicine is crucial, because if they can’t go to the pharmacy to order it and then go back later and pick it up, in that time they can get worse and end up in a hospital emergency room,” Rafael Amaro, medical director of Molina Healthcare, told EFE at a Long Beach, California, clinic.

Amaro said that with the robotic dispensary, after their doctor’s visit patients go to the machine to which the doctor has already sent the prescription by computer.

With the medical assistant’s help, patients write their code number on a computer screen and the robot automatically finds the required medicine and deposits it in the machine’s window.

“Molina Healthcare has 16 clinics in California and all of them have now installed a robotic dispensary, and in the state of Washington there are two clinics, of which one has the automated pharmacy,” Amara said.

Robot pharmacies have been manufactured by the Minnesota company InstyMed since 2001.

“InstyMed technicians began installing the machines in our clinics in June 2010 with the programme in English, and two months ago they uploaded the new programme in Spanish,” the doctor said, adding that these are the first robot pharmacies operating in Spanish in the US.

Inside the dispensary, which is the size of a big refrigerator, the medical assistant reloads the shelves with medicine cartridges, and when it closes automatically, the robot begins to read the bar codes on the ranks of boxes and bottles to find exactly the right medicine every time.

–IANS/EFE
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