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Rod Beard

Integrated electronic prescribing and robotic pharmacy dispensing

Background

Sunderland Royal Hospital has 1,000 beds and serves a population of 350,000. They’ve used integrated electronic prescribing (EP) since 2001 and installed a robot for their main dispensary in September 2009. A key element for both their electronic prescribing and their robot is the GS1 product barcode, which links the two together.

What was the problem?

Sunderland wanted an electronic link to help integrate their prescribing and dispensing functions. They also wanted to find a better way to manage their distribution system for IV fluids. In both areas, the introduction of GS1 standards meant greater efficiencies and improved patient safety.

What was their solution?

At Sunderland, they’ve integrated their prescribing, pharmacy, and patient administration systems, as well as pathology, radiology, and drug administration records. Their processes have been built around linking EP with their robotic dispenser as far as possible using a GS1 13 digit barcode. This combination has given them a lot of efficiencies:

  • Greater formulary control which means a lower rate of drug expenditure
  • More control of medicines processes and therefore less iatrogenic illness and greater patient throughput
  • Easily identify missed doses via a quick report
  • Greater efficiency in handling information and staff ability to call down what they need

Integration means there’s a direct electronic link between prescription, barcode medicine and the label that the robot applies. By linking robotic dispensing with electronic prescribing via a GS1 barcode, they’ve effectively designed out any room for error.

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