magdal3na - Fotolia

Dubai Health Authority rolls out second smart pharmacy

Robot will dispense medicine to patients as part of Dubai healthcare IT initiative

After launching a smart pharmacy at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital earlier this year, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has unveiled a robot to prescribe and dispense medication at Dubai Hospital.

The latest smart pharmacy initiative has been rolled out in time for the second phase of the DHA’s implemention of Salama, a unified electronic medical record (EMR) system, which will go live this month at the Dubai Hospital, the Dubai Diabetes Centre and all primary healthcare centres across the emirate.

According to the DHA, the robot system can store up to 35,000 medicines and dispense about 12 prescriptions in less than a minute. The robot dispenses prescribed medication by using a barcode system, minimising any human error.

Humaid Al Qatami, chairman of the board and director general at the DHA, said the system will be adopted in all government hospitals in Dubai.

He said that the robot is one of the latest smart technologies adopted by the authority to meet its 2016-2021 strategy, which aims to use innovative technologies to achieve a happy and healthy society in Dubai.

Ali Al Sayed, director of the DHA’s pharmaceutical services department, said the speed of the robot dispensing prescriptions will reduce waiting times for patients. The dispensing process will be paper-free because the robot stores each prescription as soon as the doctor issues it electronically, he said, adding: “With the robot dispensing the medication, pharmacists will be able to focus on giving customers the correct instructions on how to take the medication.”

Al Qatami said the DHA is adopting a fully integrated smart system for all pharmaceutical transactions in DHA hospitals and health centres in Dubai, incorporating a barcode smart system that was introduced in the UAE last April. “The barcode smart system aims to ensure the safety of patients by giving each medicine a barcode, thereby reducing the chances of any mistakes when dispensing medication,” he added.

The authority is implementing the new system in coordination with major international medicine suppliers.

Al Qatami said the smart pharmacy system follows the DHA’s adoption of a smart system to monitor pharmaceuticals in storage to ensure they are kept in the right conditions, including temperature.

“Monitoring of temperature, especially when it comes to medication, is one of the biggest challenges that international health organisations face because it directly affects the quality, safety and efficacy of the medication,” he added.

The DHA recently rolled out an international-standard smart system that monitors and tracks the temperatures of medication through smart devices and tablets. The system guarantees a continuous “cold chain” to maintain the quality and safety of medicines, it said.

Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics