What is Pharmacy Automation?

June 17, 2019

Pharmacy automation involves the use of largely automatic equipment in the process of handling and distributing medications. It can involve any pharmacy task, including counting medication (e.g., tablets, capsules); measuring and mixing powders and liquids for compounding; tracking and updating customer information, and inventory management.

There are numerous benefits of pharmacy automation and the efficiency gains from automating tasks can help pharmacies stay competitive in a cutthroat market. Pharmacy automation equipment increases productivity and saves time, allowing pharmacists and their staff to focus on patient care. Many pharmacies today are highly automated in order to reduce filling errors, cut the amount of time spent filling prescriptions and increase patient safety.

Before the 1970s, medication dispensing was completely manual and quite time-consuming. The first medication counting machines were developed in the 70s, and they eventually evolved into high-speed machines for counting and bottling. Today, automation solutions range from basic packaging technology to enterprise-level perpetual inventory management.

One example of modern pharmacy automation equipment is the Automated Dispensing Cabinet (ADC), an electronic drug storage device primarily for hospitals. These devices make it easier to store, dispense and manage medication near the point of care. ADCs match the doctor’s order with the correct patient, correct drug and correct dosage, automatically dispense each dosage, print labels, and electronically track each dose. Because employees only have access to the exact drug (and the exact dose) needed for patient care, an ADC pharmacy ensures patients are receiving the correct medication and minimize opportunities for employee drug fraud.

Phononic and Pharmacy Automation

Phononic medical grade solid state cooling solutions integrate with various medication and supply management systems, including the BD Pyxis and Omnicell ADCs. These medication dispensing systems interface with the locking system on Phononic’s countertop and undercounter medical grade refrigerators, so when an order is received for a refrigerated drug, the system will automatically unlock the refrigerator.

Phononic develops refrigeration and freezer solutions for laboratory and medical applications. Our cooling solutions are used for drug and vaccine storage to ensure that medications are stored in consistent, optimal temperatures that meet the CDC and Joint Commission requirements. Phononic pharmacy refrigerators have a lock feature option, which ensures the safety of both patients and medical staff. Without a compressor, our medical refrigeration units are compact and provide up to 40% more capacity in a small footprint.