We shift gears a bit this week. As most readers of Tips have hopefully surmised, the broader concept of “management” is comprised of a number of topics. The topics are interrelated but cannot be addressed in a very linear fashion. It’s not the same, for example, as addressing one therapeutic class of drugs one week, then a different one the following week. Even topics such as purchasing and inventory management, technology, patient safety, and employee satisfaction are related, or at least have implications for one another. Much is written about inventory management and use of technology, but seldom are there good peer-reviewed studies evaluating these phenomena.
Rodriguez-Gonzalez et al undertook a study examining several of these factors concomitantly.1 They state that implementation of robotic systems in outpatient hospital pharmacies is uncommon. Other than cost, one of the barriers to adoption is the lack of definitive evidence that the technology actually reduces dispensing errors and improves inventory management. As such, the study sought to identify the frequency of medication dispensing errors before and after the implementation of a robotic dispensing system in an outpatient hospital pharmacy and to analyze its impact on quality of stock management and staff satisfaction. Several indicators of stock management and staff satisfaction were monitored. Drugs were dispensed manually by technicians using a barcode-controlled system (pre-implementation phase) or the dispensing robot (post-implementation phase). The dispensing error rate was reduced from 1.31% of prescriptions (43/3284) to 0.63% (19/3004). The stock-out ratio was reduced from 0.85% to 0.17%. Daily staff time (median) in stock management was reduced by 59.3% (from 1 hour 36 minutes to 39 minutes). A high level of staff satisfaction with this technology was achieved for both pharmacists and technicians.
The study concluded that implementation of a robotic dispensing system substantially decreased the rate of dispensing errors and optimized stock management. Pharmacy managers should recognize that even things as “technical” as inventory management have implications for other aspects of the business, such as employee satisfaction. Use of technology in this case turned out to be a win-win.
Additional information about Purchasing and Inventory Management and Managing Medication Use Technologies and Automation can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.
1Rodriguez-Gonzalez CG, Herranz-Alonzo A, Escudero-Vilaplana V, et al. Robotic dispensing improves patient safety, inventory management, and staff satisfaction in an outpatient hospital pharmacy. J Eval Clin Pract. 2019; 25(1):28-35.