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Take two pills and see me in the future

High-tech is changing the way pharmacies operate – and how customers get served, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Rowena the robot arm in action at Morningside Dispensary. Pic by Arthur Goldstuck

Coming next to a pharmacy near you

Rowena and Right ePharmacy are only the beginning of technology transforming the sector.

Jared Paiva, sales manager of DNA Logic, suggests three distinct categories we can expect in the near future:

  • “The adoption of other technologies for the future are remote dispensing, as this creates reliable access to essential and chronic medication, as well as a broader reach for the South African population. Furthermore the technology will allow for reliable stock ordering to prevent stock depletion.
  • “More self-service and payment type of terminals, in order to create value and convenience for clients, as well as online ordering and delivery from pharmacies. This will also open up the doors for remote pharmacist counselling.
  • “E-scripts (electronic scripts) will become widely accepted as more and more pharmacies move to paperless environments.”

Fanie Hendrieksz, managing director of Right ePharmacy, points to several new technologies that are ready to roll out:

  • Customised Collect & Go electronic smart lockers that improves patient access and availability to pre-dispensed medication parcels. The lockers are temperature-controlled, secure and conveniently located for ease of access to patients.
  • The lockers are integrated with AWS Cloud-based technology which enables remote dispensing and live patient counselling. The cloud-based information system hosts and manages patient data and links the patient to a remote pharmacist via an audio-video link. 
  • An automated cloud-based SMS system keeps patients informed about their parcel’s tracking, next collection dates and send of collection reminders.  It uses a content delivery network called Amazon CloudFront, which assists the early identification and intervention for patients at risk of non-adherence. The system results in positive clinical outcomes and effective patient data management.
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