Automated dispensing system – how small steps can make big changes

Moving surgery-related medication dispensing from the hospital pharmacy into the surgical arena is not just a small step involving new equipment in procedure rooms, it is a giant leap for the organization that solves a multitude of problems.

Based on feedback from hospitals using IDENTI’s Narcotics Cabinet, we highlight six ways that the introduction of automated dispensing systems into the clinical environment has improved performance:

1. Inventory management of controlled drugs and narcotics 

Problem: Hospitals working to improve their inventory management workflows  are discovering that there is a lot of fall-out stemming from just one problem – inaccurate usage tracking at the point of care.

Solution: IDENTI’s Narcotics Cabinet records all usage data by patient name and procedure number and updates the EHR, MMIS and ERP. The result – point of use tracking is accurate and full item reconciliation is possible, including returns.

The Benefits: Accurate usage tracking. Re-stocks limited to required items only. Improved stock control and expiry management. Reduced inventory costs. Lower wastage costs. Full regulatory compliance.

2. Expired management of controlled medication used in surgery

Problem: Managing the expiry of controlled drugs and narcotics in the OR and PR is a huge deal. OR and PR Clinical teams are the last line of defense. Get it wrong and there can be tragic repercussions for the patient, followed by loss of reputation and costly litigation for the hospital.

The solution: IDENTI’s Narcotics Cabinet not only provides the pharmacist with reports on inventory quantities and expiring item lists but it also protects surgeons. Real time alerts produced at the point of item selection flag up any expiration or recall issues, warning the surgeon to return that item and select a new one.

The benefits: Improved patient safety. Physician safeguards. Lower hospital risk. Reduced litigation costs. Preserved reputation.

3. Hospital medication supply chain management 

Problem: Hospitals are looking for an automated drug management solutions that gives them control across supply chain workflows. This is particularly true for high-value drugs and narcotics.

Solution: IDENTI’s Narcotics Cabinet is managed by the pharmacy but used by clinicians in the surgery setting. This introduction of a simple-to-use, automated dispensing cabinet that links in to the pharmacy, hospital and supplier systems closes the supply chain gap, enabling accurate, automated procurement.

Benefits:  Full supply chain management. Joint visibility. Improved vendor relationships.

The change from individual to central management of the inventory is beneficial to the organization and also to staff:

Hospital Anesthetist: “To me, it was important that there wouldn’t be a personal inventory for each physician, but one central inventory that is automatically managed with clinical correlation. Therefore, the great advantage is the system’s logical ability to manage a computerized database.

Chief Pharmacist: “The problem was that the manner in which each doctor conducted himself in front of the pharmacy was individually, he was responsible for his own daily inventory and for reporting the ‘transactions’ on forms. When it comes to a large team, manual follow-up became quite complicated.”

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Read article : Automated Dispensing Systems in Hospitals
Automated Dispensing Systems in Hospitals

4. Managing controlled drugs returned after surgery

Problem: Exceptions management must ensure that all medications are accounted for – specifically those removed from the dispensing cabinet during surgery but only partially used, unused, ruined, recalled or expired.

Solution: IDENTI’s Narcotics Cabinet has separate compartments for returned items to enable full reconciliation of drugs – those administered, wasted and returned – logged against individual patient and the staff member returning them.

The Benefits:  Accurate logging of unused medication. Reduced post-surgery admin from surgeon. Improved inventory management.

Clinicians find using the automated dispensing cabinet to deal with returns a much simpler process:

“No more post op form filling”

“Entering the report directly in the system and the electronic signature closes all the corners. The chance of error decreases to zero”

5. Maximizing security and compliance in hospitals medications management 

Problem: Inventory management systems need to  have built-in compliance. Regulations require the secure storage or controlled medication, authorized access control and the full and accurate recording of prescribed medication in patient records.

Solution: Using an automated dispensing system within the surgery setting provides secure storage of controlled drugs. The tracked inventory management interfaces with the patient file, so the system naturally takes care of compliance, giving staff confidence and protection. Controlled access and double locked storage compartments provide maximum protection of controlled drugs.

The Benefits: Full compliance. Secure storage. Authorized access only. Integration with patient file. Reduced drug diversion. Reduced non compliance costs.

6. Streamlined medication inventory workflows

Problem: Hospitals are not known for their lean workflows, in fact quite the opposite! Many medical inventory workflows are still manual or, even where IT systems are in place, they may not be integrated with the hospital’s IT framework.  Clinical staff can be weighed down by duplicate data entry into different systems or the completion of a multitude of forms.

Solution: Having the drug dispensing unit in the operating room results in reduced time at the pharmacy, accurate usage itemization and improved visibility. By having physician-lead dispensing within the surgery setting the dispensing workflows becomes leaner.

The Benefits: Improved workflows. Increased efficiency. Reduced admin time by clinicians. Enhanced relationships between pharmacists and physicians.

Pharmacist: “The dynamics with the doctors have greatly improved. Today I have the tools to complete with the doctor the missing information.”

Watch the video about:

Watch the narcotics cabinet tutorial
Watch the narcotics cabinet tutorial

Hospitals using the IDENTI Narcotics Cabinet report back that it is easy to use, integrates well with their systems and provided workflow and supply chain improvements.

“The implementation process of the system was fast, the IDENTI team helped and allowed us to make changes so that the system would suit our personal needs. Since the system, the number of exceptional cases has dropped to a single case per month.”

Find out more about the IDENTI Narcotics Cabinet.


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About the author

Or is the Head of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships. She has a wealth of experience in the health–tech sector. Her innovative marketing strategies have successfully driven IDENTI’s growth in multiple worldwide markets. Her strength is the ability to identify what truly resonates within the industry. She is passionate about building relationships and her expertise lies in creating meaningful partnerships with healthcare providers, distributors, and suppliers..
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