Bangkok Post

Thai hospital set to introduce eight robots at its pharmacies

Thailand-based Siriraj Hospital believes the robots will address human errors and increase customer satisfaction levels

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 1:01pm

Siriraj Hospital in Thailand plans to introduce robots into the dispensing process at its pharmacies to improve patients’ safety and speed up its services.

Prasit Watanapa, Siriraj Hospital’s Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, said yesterday the hospital will introduce eight robots into dispensary procedures to prepare medications for outpatients.

The machines can help increase accuracy in preparing prescriptions and improve patient safety, he added.

Pharmacy procedures tend to be complicated these days, Dr Prasit said.

Each patient tends to need more than one type of medicine for treatment which could increase the likelihood of a pharmacist’s error, he added.

On top of that, the machines will speed up the hospital’s pharmacy services, Dr Prasit noted. The hospital has received complaints by patients and their relatives about slow pharmacy procedures.

Dr Prasit said the hospital is constantly improving its pharmacy services but satisfaction levels remain low due to the increasing number of patients. The hospital provides medical services for around 8,000-10,000 outpatients on a daily basis.

In the initial stage, robots will be installed at the pharmacy for the Medicine Department, one of the hospital’s busiest departments. They will be ready for use at the end of this year. The department handles more than two million lists of medicine per year for patients.

“We believe the machines will help solve the problems at our pharmacies,” Dr Prasit said.

Visit Wamwanich, Siriraj Hospital’s director, said his hospital set an ambitious target to achieve zero errors after the robots are introduced.

Around three errors are detected per 1,000 prescriptions at the hospital’s pharmacies, Dr Visit said.

Pharmacists usually detect mistakes when revising the label directions during patient counselling, he said.

The robots were created in a collaboration between Siriraj Hospital, the Thailand Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences, Institute of Field Robotics’ King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and Supreme Hitera Co.

According to the hospital’s deputy director, Cherdchai Nopmaneejamraslert, 85 per cent of the dispensing process will be handled by robots and the rest by pharmacists.

The machines will mainly be used to prepare medicine that comes in package and blister packs, he said.

Dr Cherdchai claims the robots will be able to work to 100 per cent accuracy in preparing medicine for patients.

The machines will help cut wait times for pharmacy services, he said.

Thai hospital set to introduce eight robots at its pharmacies