There are a ton of things to consider when you’re thinking about putting new technology in the pharmacy. You have to consider the cost, the impact on your operations, the reputation of the company that you’re buying from, what type of technology you’re going to buy, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.
However, the number one thing you must consider before taking the plunge is whether or not the technology fits your dispensing model. Do you still do a cart fill? Are you completely decentralized? Are you using a just-in-time dispensing model? Will the technology that I’m looking at fit what I hope to accomplish? You need to think about that long and hard before making a decision.
It’s like buying a new vehicle. You certainly don’t buy a Toyota Prius if you need to pull a 24 foot Centurion Enzo SV244 – a really nice boat – to the lake on weekends. No, instead you buy a new Ford Super Duty truck. I know that makes perfect sense to you, yet I hear people frequently say “it doesn’t fit the way we work” when talking about pharmacy automation and technology. When they say that, the first thing that pops into my mind is “then why did you buy it?”. It’s a question that needs serious consideration because some of this stuff is expensive.
I experienced this firsthand in my previous role as an IT pharmacist. We installed new technology that didn’t really fit our distribution model all that well. We tried to cram the technology into an manual process. Didn’t work. I fought it for a few months until the light bulb finally went off. Once we got out act together we redesigned the process around the technology. We took advantage of the automation and filled in the gaps where necessary. It fundamentally changed the way we did things, and in the process improved the overall distribution process.
So before you go and buy a robot, or a carousel, or a high-speed packager, or a compounding machine, make sure you ask yourself how you’re going to use it. This stuff isn’t top secret. Do a quick Google search. Watch some videos. Talk with hospitals that do the same things as you.
In a nutshell do your homework before taking the plunge because once you take the plunge and decide you’ve made a mistake you can only do one of two things: 1) change automation, or 2) change the way you work.