South African healthcare is set for an efficiency boost with a new medicine dispensing robot that will deliver medication in a more convenient and effective way. News24 reports that the robot, built in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Right ePharmacy, is being showcased at the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems ManuVation 4.0 Workshop in Pretoria.
The report says security was a key consideration of the design of the AVA34 robot. "We started the design and the build of the robot with this in mind. Whereas available robots in the market identify (scan) products during loading, albeit none of them [are] able to dispense medicine bags, the AVA robot is double confirming all dispenses (pickings)," Andre van Biljon, chief technology officer and innovator at Right ePharmacy said.
The robot features an ability to scan images and barcodes to make sure the pick is correct. "If in doubt, the item will be discarded and not dispensed to the patient. Competitor products do not do this, without which perfect accuracy during dispensing cannot be guaranteed," van Biljon added.
The report says it features an ability to dispense medication in medicine bags and it can also apply labels and dosage labels within six seconds per item – or 550 sachets per hour. The dosage labels printed are discarded almost immediately and the robot stores no patient information.
AVA34 will mainly be used to dispense chronic medication where medicines in medicine bags or sachets are supplied to patients, van Biljon is quoted in the report as saying. "In South Africa, this is at least 30% the case of typical items on chronic medication scripts – 30% line items on typical chronic scripts are packaged in sachets or medicine bags. This is a significant volume and could be as much as 40m bags per month for South Africa." He said that in the rest of Africa, up to 80% of line items supplied to chronic patients could be in a sachet form.
The report says the AVA34 prototype was completed in December 2018 and Right ePharmacy is now focused on a manufacturing process. "We have completed a working prototype by the end of 2018 and started to exhibit the unit. Out next step is the digitisation of the design followed by its production planning," van Biljon said.
The report says AVA34 is not the first of its kind, but is designed for high capacity use unlike, for example, the Evondos E300 machine which is designed for home use. The cost of the AVA34 will be determined once the machine is in production, van Biljon added.
[link url="https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/speedy-medicine-dispensing-robot-to-give-sa-healthcare-a-shot-in-the-arm-20190227"]News24 report[/link]