Robot Delivers Hospital Pharmacy's Drugs to Nurses

To give health-system pharmacists more time to concentrate on patient-centered care, a hospital has enlisted the help of a robot named Tug to deliver medications to nursing stations.

To give health-system pharmacists more time to concentrate on patient-centered care, a hospital has enlisted the help of a robot named Tug to deliver medications to nursing stations.

Tug, who resides at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Fort Thomas, Ohio, travels more than 5 miles a day throughout the hospital on his 400 medication deliveries, according to The Cincinnati Business Courier.

He can open doors, call elevators, and avoid passersby. Patients waiting for the elevator may hear a little voice saying, “Approaching elevator, please stand aside,” or “Waiting for doors to open.”

Once Tug has arrived at his destination, the nurse can collect medications from a drawer located in the back of it. However, the drawers cannot be opened without a password and a fingerprint scan.

“He’s not transporting narcotics,” St. Elizabeth spokesman Guy Karrick told The Cincinnati Business Courier. “These are antibiotics and things like that.”

Staff can also locate where Tug is at all times, and when he arrives back at the pharmacy to pick up more medications, he is able to ring a bell to be let in.

Karrick told The Cincinnati Business Courier the robot cost $40,000 for the hardware, software, and training, plus $2500 a month to lease. Karrick said a pharmacy technician would cost about $15,000 a month to work the same amount of hours as Tug, so it will be cost effective in the long term.

Like a car’s GPS system, Tug can have a male or female voice. He is also able to speak other languages and use a different accent. Some people at the hospital even compare Tug to Star Wars’ 3CPO.

The hospital’s vice president of nursing, Benita Utz, told The Cincinnati Business Courier that Tug is “very reliable, predictable, and easy-to-use.”