I followed a little banter on Twitter this weekend regarding the use of automated dispensing kiosks to dispense medications to patients instead of using a physical pharmacy. There are many pharmacists out there that believe the use of automated medication dispensing in the outpatient arena is bad practice and separates patients from their pharmacists. I donâ€™t share their sentiment. Iâ€™ve blogged about these devices before, here and here, and believe they could be used to improve the pharmacist-patient interaction. I actually had the opportunity to watch an InstyMeds Prescription Medication Dispenser in action under a physician dispensing model late last year and thought it was well done.
It is unclear to me why pharmacists fear these machines, but it reminds me of the fear surrounding automated dispensing cabinets during their inception back in the day. Â Now they’re an integral part of acute care pharmacy practice. Perhaps pharmacists believe that patients wonâ€™t get the necessary consultation and instruction that they would had they visited their local retail pharmacy. As one that has worked in a retail pharmacy environment, albeit briefly, I donâ€™t buy into that belief. Under the right set of circumstances, and with thoughtful implementation, kiosks could free up pharmacists to spend more time with patients in emergency departments and urgent care clinics across the country. After all, donâ€™t pharmacists argue for more clinical face time with patients and less association with the physical medication dispensing process? That’s what I’ve been hearing from pharmacists for years.
I would argue that placing kiosks in certain locations could improve medication therapy management and patient compliance. The odds of a mother with a tired, cranky, ill child going out of her way to visit a local retail pharmacy at midnight is much lower than grabbing a prescription at an automated dispensing machine in the urgent care clinic following the childâ€™s exam. It certainly couldn’t hurt. Now throw in a consultation from the pharmacist prior to going to the medication kiosk and you have a winning combination.
Kiosks certainly wouldn’t fit every situation, but there is certainly room in the pharmacy practice model for their thoughtful use. Think about it.