Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Robotic Pharmacists are Making Waves

Bob's Budget Pharmacy in Quay County New Mexico has just installed a new robotic pharmacist. According to the one of the Pharmacists, "The beauty is the speed and the accuracy." The system, a SP200 robot manufactured by ScriptPro, is one of already 10 in place in New Mexico. The device is capable of filling 150 prescriptions an hour and cost only about $800/week.

Since in this case the owners are the pharmacists, they have little to fear from this device, but in corporate and chain pharmacies these devices will likely replace tens of thousands of pharmacists over the next few years.

On the flip side, patients will likely benefit as accuracy and cost should decline. A 2000 report estimated the prescription errors in 1993 caused 7,391 deaths that year and that 2% of hospital admissions experienced a preventable adverse affect. The report estimated that only 7% of errors were due to "supply", but once you spread that across a large population, the effects can be significant.