A new service at Rambam’s pharmacy allows the staff of the inpatient wards and treatment units to use an innovative robotic system for dispensing medicines for the ward’s patients, remotely controlled, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The new service, a kind of medical “ATM”, is made possible thanks to the implementation of a computerized interface that connects the logistics software that operates in the hospital and the one that operates the robotic system in the pharmacy. The development of the interface for connecting the various programs required joint work between the Rambam team and other teams in Israel and Finland, an activity that has recently become a challenge.
With the launch of the new service as part of Rambam’s pharmacy operations, the hospital expects that the method will significantly save waiting times for the issuance of medicines for hospital patients by 60% or more in some units and allow medical staff to perform their work better and faster. The Rambam management team recently toured the pharmacy to take a closer look at the development and learn about the implications of implementing the new interface.
Yariv Ben-David from the hospital’s planning and operations department, who manages the project:
The new process optimizes the way of working between the teams of the various units and the pharmacists of the pharmacy, “he explains,” everything is done without human contact, with the interaction between the various factors taking place through the computerized system. This is a leap forward in our pharmacy work.
Limor Eisenbud, Director of Pharmacy Services at Rambam:
The use of computerized pharmacy operations ultimately translates into patient investment. Faster, more efficient, in less time – this is the formula. Once the medical staff and pharmacists reduce the time spent on technical operations, they can direct it to investing in the quality of care and that is our primary goal in the end.
The robotic system operating in Rambam’s pharmacy, which is considered one of the most advanced of its kind, was inaugurated several months ago, and is used to store and issue tens of thousands of drugs for all hospital wards, in a short time and with maximum efficiency, around the clock.
This is the largest system and has the largest storage volume in the country. With a working output of 24/7, and with the help of the three robotic arms of the system and 28 meters of electric conveyors, the system is able to quickly sort packaged drugs, arrange them on shelves according to a calculation performed by the system and collect the drugs as needed.
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The sophisticated system is spread over an area of 44 square meters and a height of 2.5 meters. Its establishment at Rambam required construction work that included the creation of storage space and the adjustment of infrastructure. The system is manufactured by the Finnish company New Icon and was purchased from the Israeli company Gotket, when a skilled team of installers flew from Finland for the purpose of assembling and installing the system at Rambam.
The system has a storage capacity of 67,000 packages and is made up of two parallel storage units – each of which has an independent working capacity independent of the other. This division allows the system to simultaneously perform both receiving packaging for inventory and issuing various issuance orders, with the system being able to issue 1,800 packages and receive 400 packages per hour. The system is equipped with means for temperature and humidity control that enable the storage quality of the drugs to be monitored and controlled.
The storage process includes: registering the incoming inventory, freely distributing it on a conveyor belt, sorting and arranging medicines automatically on the shelves of storage units in such a way that each medicine package is identified and registered and its location is managed. Thanks to the computing process, the system actually operates with zero glitches when it comes to drug issuance. The issuance process includes placing an order from the system inventory, automatic collection and issuance to one of four possible exit points: service counter, centralized order to develop service in the system, order packed in boxes and, as mentioned, the new “ATM” option.