Pharmacy Direct’s ‘state-of-the-art’ picking robots in the company’s automated dispensary which process 8000 prescriptions a day across South Africa. Picture: Screen grab of video.
Pharmacy Direct’s ‘state-of-the-art’ picking robots in the company’s automated dispensary which process 8000 prescriptions a day across South Africa. Picture: Screen grab of video.

WATCH: Automated dispensary uses ‘state-of-the-art’ robots to process 8 000 prescriptions a day across SA

By Karen Singh Time of article published Nov 10, 2021

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DURBAN - Nationwide medication company Pharmacy Direct has announced the implementation of state-of-the-art robotics in its dispensary to ensure consistent and improved service delivery to patients.

The company, which is a subsidiary of the AfroCentric Group, said this new technology allows Pharmacy Direct to transform its processes, bringing about performance improvements that add value for its patients.

The company said this modernisation effort is part of the group’s vision to transform the health-care industry in South Africa by improving efficiency, increasing productivity, improving quality by reducing delays, developing its people and improving the use of space.

Gawie Erasmus, CEO of Pharmacy Direct, said automation in business is gaining momentum. However, he said, with unemployment being a critical issue, this kind of digital enhancement is not about removing people from the workforce.

“At Pharmacy Direct, implementing automation has actually benefited our employees. We pride ourselves on the fact that there were no job losses throughout this process. Instead, we upskilled our people, making sure they become a part of the digital revolution. As a result, this has allowed for better allocation of resources and increased productivity,” said Erasmus.

Erasmus added that the automated dispensary has already pushed public health-care forward in South Africa

He said that the company has also been in partnership with the national Department of Health’s Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution programme since 2014.

Pharmacy Direct services more than one million state patients on chronic medication regimes, packages more than 42 000 medicine parcels every eight hours, and delivers them to designated pick-up points close to patients’ work or homes, he said. He noted that the introduction of automation only serves to increase efficiency in this area, improving public health care.

“The advantage of chronic medication being couriered to patients really shone through during the Covid-19 pandemic. By alleviating congestion at public facilities, while reducing the risk of exposure and infections, we can do this faster and safer than ever before,” said Erasmus.

Erasmus said the new technology has already made a difference to the operation, leaving the door open for future growth.

“Our facility now processes over 8 000 scripts a day with the ability to scale up to 16 000 at short notice. This is a testament to what people can achieve with the right tools and support on their side,” he said.

According to Erasmus, the biggest challenge in dispensing has always been to find ways of decreasing patient waiting times. He said this is exactly what the company is aiming to achieve.

THE MERCURY

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