Royal Preston Hospital in the UK is set to introduce robotic systems in its pharmacy department to enhance patient services, reported Lancashire Evening Post

Its 16-year-old system is being replaced with a more efficient and modern robotic version. 

This initiative comes following the successful deployment of the robotic system at the Chorley and South Ribble Hospital. 

The Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust operates the Royal Preston Hospital and the Chorley and South Ribble Hospital.  

The installation of the replacement robotic systems in the pharmacy departments aims to expedite prescription processing so that patients can get their medicines faster while saving time for pharmacies.  

Once the staff at the pharmacy department process the label of the drug or enter an order for stock, the Omnicell Medimat robotic system selects the box from the shelves, scans it to ensure it is the correct medication, and then transports it along a conveyor belt right up to a collection point.  

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The robot at Chorley can handle 12,000 packs of medicines while the one being installed at Preston is capable of handling 30,000. These robots can supply the same number of packs in an hour that would otherwise take a day to manually pick, reported the publication. 

Apart from speed, the robot is claimed to offer advantages in terms of accuracy as it leverages barcode technology to identify the correct medicine, form, and strength. It also improves stock management practices.  

The Omnicell Medimat system comes with increased gripper dimensions to manage larger medication packs, thereby raising the number of automated lines while streamlining the management of unlabelled and part packs. 

With a loading speed of up to 750 packs per hour and up to 10m of conveyor belt, the automated process can reduce stock outages and wastage. 

During the installation period, the pharmacy department at Royal Preston Hospital will temporarily undertake manual storage and picking of stock from 8 January to 18 March.