Hospital pharmacy service re-design: working with robots

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GG&C) required a redesign of their Acute and Mental Health Pharmacy Services to increase access to pharmacy clinical services for patients.

GG&C had used three different pharmacy systems across multiple sites. Each site used separate databases and drug files which meant the system was highly ineffective. Also medicines utilisation reporting systems were based on a number of site locations.

 GG&C engaged with EMIS Health to create a new Pharmacy system to release staff onto the wards, consolidate the pharmacy services and redefine the way medicines are provided to in-patients.

Robotics revolutionise the Pharmacy service

EMIS Health worked with GG&C to design a centralised Pharmacy Distribution Centre (PDC). By implementing EMIS Health’s Hospital Pharmacy solution and a robotics interface, GG&C were able to improve efficiency and accuracy. 

The robots perform automated picking; there is no longer a need for manual checking. This decreases administrative efforts enabling staff to use their time in a clinical setting.

Pharmacy staff on the ward

The PDC has replaced 14 pharmacy stores managed by 150 staff. The new Pharmacy Distribution centre operates with 40 staff, which has enabled 41 whole time equivalent staff to be available on the wards. This has effectively doubled their clinical pharmacy services.

EMIS Health’s Hospital Pharmacy system includes a Decision Support Service that highlights any dangerous drug interactions or allergies the patients might have, improving patient safety.

“We’ve improved our access to a clinical Pharmacist on ward from 60% to 80%. That takes us from among the poorest performers, to among the best performers in Scotland.”

Norman Lannigan, lead pharmacist for acute care at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Taking pharmacy to the patient

GG&C’s ‘Making the Most of your Medicines (MMyM)’ project enables drug administration at the patient’s bedside, improving patient safety and experience. By working in real time at a patient level, the dispensary workflow is smoother as the previous ‘peaks and troughs’ caused by a paper based system are removed.

An electronic system also improves patient safety by removing transcription errors. The trust is saving £1.5 million a year in wasted medicines. The system also saves the trust £1.0 million a year by avoiding duplicate orders.

Pharmacy and robotics at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde