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Pharmacy automation

Automation pilot cuts prescription checking time by two-thirds

A hospital in Wales has cut the amount of time it takes to check prescriptions by two-thirds by using robotic technology as part of a proof-of-concept trial.

Morriston Hospital’s medicines homecare team in Swansea Bay University Health Board, trialled the use of robotic process automation (RPA) to in the review and clinical validation of 881 rheumatology prescriptions over a three-month period.

RPA is already widely used to automate data entry and online customer service enquires by replicating human interaction with a digital user interface.

However, Reuben Morgan, medicine homecare team lead, said that, to his knowledge, its use in prescription checking is “ground-breaking and has never been attempted previously”.

Morgan said the RPA “adhered to a strict set of guidelines, called a process definition document (PDD), which was co-written by a health board clinical pharmacist, which ensured that the process followed the exact same methodology as the pharmacist in checking the prescriptions”.

He emphasised that during this proof-of-concept trial, all prescriptions were also checked by a pharmacist, with 745 of the 88 prescriptions (84.5%) being approved by the pharmacist.

The pilot, which was developed with human+, a public sector automation consultancy, was “purely to scope the art of the possible, and could only truly be adopted with the advent of e-prescribing,” Morgan added.

The Welsh government has previously said that it plans to go out to tender for an e-prescribing system at the end of 2019, with a contract awarded in early 2021.





Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207500

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