The Gauteng Department of Health in collaboration with Right to Care, and Right ePharmacy have launched the Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU) – the first of its kind in Africa.
The PDU works like an ATM for medication, with Skype-like audio-visual interaction between patient and tele-pharmacists, cloud based electronic software and robotic technology used to dispense and label medication.
It was developed to ensure accurate dispensing and quick collection. A clinically stable patient on chronic medication can be given the option to collect chronic prescriptions from the PDU pharmacy.
“While driven by sophisticated technology, patients’ concerns and information needs are still handled one-on-one by tele-pharmacists,” explained Right to Care CEO, Professor Ian Sanne.
“Alexandra Plaza, where our first PDU is located, is a central community shopping centre which is on transport routes and it is open on weekends and public holidays. Sites in Diepsloot and two sites in Soweto have also been selected for the pilot of this public pharmacy programme.”
Gauteng Health MEC, Gwen Ramokgopa, said that she expects the new systems to dramatically reduces waiting times and congestion in public healthcare facilities as they are rolled-out across the city.
“The system is run by qualified pharmacists and pharmacy assistants and integrates with the clinical management of patients with chronic conditions at public facilities,” she said.
Medicine is dispensed in a simple 5-step process:
- Patient scans barcode ID book, ID card or pharmacy card and enters PIN.
- Patient talks to a remote pharmacist.
- The prescription and or items are selected.
- The medicine is robotically dispensed and labelled and drops in the collection slot.
- Patient takes receipt which indicates next collection date.