UCSF Opens Robotic Pharmacy, With a Human Touch

Published Online: Monday, April 18, 2011
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Pharmacists and student pharmacists at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center are leading the charge for personalized, collaborative patient care. Critical to the success of their mission to humanize health care is a cutting-edge pharmacy manned entirely by automated machines.

The “family of giant robots,” as it is described by UCSF, receives computerized orders from UCSF staff and picks, packages, and dispenses individual doses of pills for all the Center’s patients accordingly. It also compounds sterile preparations of chemotherapy and nonchemotherapy doses and fills intravenous syringes or bags with medications.

Although robotics are nothing new, the automated hospital pharmacy is “believed to be the most comprehensive,” according to UCSF. Their vision for the pharmacy is that it will not only improve patient safety and satisfaction at UCSF, but also serve as an example to other hospitals and health care providers across the nation.

By maximizing their use of automation for the manual tasks of processing and dispensing drugs, UCSF hopes to set the stage for a future in which pharmacists, physicians, and nurses work closely together to identify and manage medication therapy for patients.

“This technology, with others, will allow pharmacists to use their pharmaceutical care expertise to assure that patients are treated with medicines tailored to their individual needs,” said Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy.

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