Airman 1st Class Roma Terry adds a label to a patient's prescription Dec. 10, 2010, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The PharmASSIST ROBOTx assures patient safety with bar code scans of all electronically processed prescriptions. Airman Terry is a pharmacy technician with the 18th Medical Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson)
Airman 1st Class Roma Terry begins running a check on the new pharmacy robot Dec. 10, 2010, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The PharmASSIST ROBOTx has established quality checkpoints throughout the pharmacy by employing bar code scanning, digital images of medications and original paper prescriptions, and protocols at every stage of the prescription filling process. Airman Terry is a pharmacy technician with the 18th Medical Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson)
Airman 1st Class Roma Terry reviews the different types of medication the PharmASSIST ROBOTx is stocked with Dec. 10, 2010, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The PharmASSIST can store anywhere from 70 to 140 prescription dispensers at one time based on pharmacy volume, budget and requirements. Airman Terry is a pharmacy technician with the 18th Medical Support Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson)
by Airman 1st Class Tara A. Williamson
18th Wing Public Affairs
12/28/2010 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- The pharmacy staff here recently added a new member to their crew: a robot designed to count medication for prescriptions.
The PharmASSIST ROBOTx stores the counted medications until electronic prescriptions are received from doctors. Then, using bar code scanning checks, it ensures patients receive the correct medication.
The new robot is able to produce up to 240 prescriptions per hour, fill prescriptions every 15 seconds and count medications simultaneously.
With an average of 400 prescriptions to be filled in the Kadena Air Base pharmacy daily, the estimated time for patients waiting on prescriptions before using the robot was 30 minutes, but now the wait time is has dropped to about 20 minutes.
The robot not only helps decrease patient wait time by nearly 30 percent, it adds extra layers of patient safety and creates a more efficient work environment by minimizing physical effort while maximizing efficiency, said Tech. Sgt. John Garcia, the 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of pharmacy services.
"We can take care of our other responsibilities around the pharmacy that sometimes get pushed back because we don't have enough time," he said. "If we speed up the whole filling process, then we'll be able to focus more time on supply and ordering, and rectifying patient issues with medication shortages and name brand to generic switches. The robot will help the pharmacy's efficiency as a whole, which will hopefully translate to even better patient care and customer satisfaction."
Airman 1st Class Roma Terry, an 18th MDSS pharmacy technician, said the machine makes her day-to-day job easier.
"I think the robot is really great," she said. "It cuts down a lot of work. You don't have to be waiting for a medication. It just fills on its own."
This new robot also will help newer pharmacy Airmen by giving them experience working with ROBOTx here and they will be able to apply that knowledge when they move on to another base, where they'll likely work with similar technology.
1/4/2011 10:47:49 AM ET You would think the wait times would be shorter, however, they may be using the wait times of all customers to get the average wait time. Not all pharmacy orders are capable of being filled by the PharmASSIST and the additional time it takes for a human to fill an order may be skewing the results. Also I bet the cost and the maintenance for the system comes no where close to the cost of an Airman who enlists for four to six years.
12/30/2010 12:13:12 PM ET If the robot can fill 240 prescriptions an hour and the average prescriptions filled daily at Kadena is 400 why are people still waiting 20 minutes? I'm thinking the wait time should be no longer than 5 minutes. I wouldn't know what the robot cost the AF, but I think recruiting another couple of Airman would have been cheaper and helped the economy. Technology is a great thing except for the unemployment line. I also love the comment about minimizing physical effort while we are supposed to be fit to fight. Hope no one from Kadena has to deploy. There counting skills will be way behind the war effort.