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3 February 2022

Two new robotic systems are being installed at Wexham Park Hospital’s Pharmacy department to speed up prescription processing and manage medication on the wards.

Once the technology is fully up and running it will save valuable time for the Pharmacy team and ultimately allow nursing staff on wards to focus more time on caring for patients.

Both systems were delivered to the hospital in January and will be up and running by the end of this month. One is currently being set up in the main Pharmacy dispensary for patient prescriptions and the other is being installed in Pharmacy Stores to manage the medication that is stocked on each ward.

One of the many benefits of the robotic technology is the speed at which it can process prescription requests.

The system in the Pharmacy office will be able to dispense around 100 items per hour and will deliver the required medication within seconds of a request. Once the Pharmacy staff process the label for the medicine, the robot selects the box from the shelves, scans it to ensure it is the right medication and transports it along a conveyer belt to one of the three collection points.

The dispensary system will even work out of hours for emergency requests. When the Pharmacy is closed, the medication would be ordered and delivered by the on-call pharmacist working from home. The bed managers can then pick up the medication from a secure hatch located just outside of the main Pharmacy office.   

The second ‘distribution’ robotic system being installed in Pharmacy Stores will be capable of processing up to 2,000 items per hour and will automate the management of stock in each of the hospital’s ward areas. Several wards already use Omnicell storage cabinets and the robot will link with these systems and automatically replenish stocks. 

The robotic systems are the latest by US technology firm Omnicell. An earlier model of the same brand is already used at Frimley Park Hospital. The Omnicell software is also compatible with Epic EPR, which will ease the transition once the Trust switches to the electronic patient record system in June.

For the Pharmacy team, the new technology will replace the pneumatic tube system that has been in place for the past seven years and which will continue to be used for pathology requests.

Chief Pharmacist Dennis Lauder said: “This is one of the biggest projects I’ve been involved in during my 20 years at the Trust. It’s unprecedented that a system of this magnitude has taken just four months to get from the planning stages to where we are today.

“It’s been a great team effort led by the Pharmacy Site Manager, in collaboration with the whole Pharmacy team, Estates, IT, Contracts, Paragon the building contractors and the Omnicell project manager, to get the system installed as quickly as possible.

“The project is the perfect example of Frimley Health’s commitment to introducing the latest technology across its hospitals. By investing in this robotic system the Pharmacy team will be able to work more efficiently and ultimately it will improve care for our patients.”

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