Cool Technology for Pharmacy – PharmaTrust MedCentre

The PharmaTrust MedCentre is a fully automated remote dispensing machine similar to the InstyMeds Prescription Medication Dispenser I mentioned back in October of 2009. We were evaluating the InstyMeds machine when it died a slow agonizing death during budget talks.

The idea is simple really. Load the MedCentre machine with a few hundred of the most commonly prescribed medications in ready to dispense, pre-packaged bottles, have a patient insert a prescription, or “voucher” depending on what country or state you’re in, and sit back and wait for the prescription to pop out. Just like a vending machine. Of course the patient has the option to consult a pharmacist by simply picking up a telephone attached to the machine, but I don’t assume that happens too often. Most people want their medications as quickly as possible.

My personal opinion is that there is nothing wrong with this technology when used appropriately. It definitely provides a service for those patients that might not otherwise go the extra mile to pick up little Johnny’s amoxicillin. With that said, not everyone thinks these machines are a good idea. An impromptu poll at CBC News generated some interesting comments. At the time I took the poll over 70% of the respondents didn’t like the idea of an automated dispensing machine giving them their medication. I’m not sure I follow the argument. Can those of you that have worked the prescription mill in a busy retail environment really argue that it’s a safer model? You could try, but I don’t know that your heart would be in it.

When used properly these automated dispensing cabinets could potentially promote pharmacist-patient interaction, not decrease it. Think of a situation where a pharmacist provides a prescription to a patient in a busy ED or urgent care center following consultation, then sends them directly to the MedCentre station to retrieve their medication. Do you see a problem with that? Seems like a win-win to me.

And that’s where technology like this can shine, in urgent care centers and hospitals with busy emergency rooms. Remember that these dispensing machines only hold the most commonly prescribed medications. Any drug that requires advanced preparation or special handling would still need to be filled at a regular brick and mortar pharmacy.

From the PharmaTrust website:

Here’s a link to an article at the Chemist + Druggist (C+D) website that talks about the MedCentre machine being used in a UK hospital.

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