Automated Dispensing

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Introduction
Automated dispensing is a system being implemented in today's pharmacy's nation wide. It involves the use of machines pre stocked with drugs that are programmed to automatically dispense physicians orders upon request.

Changing roles
With technology advancing, the role of both the pharmacy technician and the pharmacist is taking a swing toward making the dispensary a better work environment. Automatic dispensing systems are taking over the dispensing issues of the pharmacy and technicians fear they will take over their job completely. The duties of a pharmacy technician are counting pills and placing them in the proper vials with lids and applying the appropriate labels to assist the pharmacist in anyway possible so they can spend more time with patients. Maybe in the smaller pharmacies some technicians will lose their job, but in the busier and bigger pharmacies, technicians will become an asset. The machines can't stock themselves. Someone needs to keep the cabinets well stocked and all the products will have to be checked for expiry dates on a regular basis. Everyday pharmacy supplies have to be maintained, ordering and receiving of products has to be looked after, and the filing of the prescriptions and sales records has to be filed on a daily basis. These jobs will always be available and machines will never replace the technician completely because even when you think there is nothing to do, there is always something. Along with the role of the pharmacy technician changing, the role of the pharmacist is taking a turn towards better patient care. In some pharmacies the pharmacist does all the dispensing and there are no technicians involved, but with the automated dispensing system performing these duties, pharmacists will be inclined to spend more time with patients to discuss their medications with them and to monitor their drug therapy in order to provide optimal pharmaceutical care. By spending more time with patients and getting to know them, maybe pharmacists could pick up on some of the compliance issues that are arising. In a lot of cases, patients aren't coming at the proper time for their blood pressure pills, or they are buying a box of test strips every four months which means they aren't using their medications properly; if pharmacists had enough time to spend a few minutes with all patients, maybe this could be picked up on and resolved before the patients condition worsens.

Advantages
Automated dispensing has many advantages as well as drawbacks. Some of the advantages include improved efficiency, enhanced safety, and improved use of space. (1) When a prescription is dropped off at the drop off window, either a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician must input the order into a computer to generate a label. Then they have to walk to the stock area and pick the right drug and strength and bring it back to the counter area, where it is counted and placed in a vial that is capped and labelled. The next step is to perform a 7-point check to verify the patient, the doctor, the drug and strength, the amount dispensed and remaining, the directions for use and the drug identification number(DIN) of the drug. The pharmacist then does a double check on all information and bags it before handing it to the cashier to give to the patient. With automated dispensing systems, the order is entered into a pharmacy computer by the pharmacist, where it is transmitted to the automated dispensary, which picks the drug by bar code identification, label it and dispenses the finished product back to the pharmacist to verify and pass on to the patient. It is more effective and can generate orders 10 times faster then the average technician. Automated dispensing enhances safety to both the patients and to the work environment. When manually selecting a bottle, it is very easy to select the wrong one especially with different strengths such as antibiotic liquids like amoxil or biaxin. The use of automated...
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