News Feature | April 14, 2016

Robotic Compounding Of Medications Helps Improve Patient Safety

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Robotics In Industry: How Will It Impact IT?

Using robotic systems for sterile IV therapies improves safety and compliance, reduces waste.

IV compounding, particularly around chemotherapy drugs, poses a safety hazard to employees if ideal policies aren't followed consistently. This is particularly difficult even as industry experts have yet to develop what these requirements should be. Automating this process simplifies workflows, minimizes employee exposure to potentially dangerous materials, and supports improved care for oncology patients by eliminating medication errors.

According to a Baxa white paper, hospital pharmacies are turning to IV room automation technology in order to improve patient safety, reduce costs, and optimize the use of pharmacy personnel. Robotic systems also reduce the chance of human error in dosing and compounding of medications, reduce the contamination of doses, and provide a significant reduction in labor hours.

UW Health, the system associated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has announced it is adding Omnicell’s i.v.STATION ONCOTM, which provides robotic sterile compounding of oncology admixtures, to their pharmacy automation solutions for use in the drug distribution process in the main hospital and three additional facilities.

The hospital also announced that it is updating both its existing ROBOT-Rx automated medication dispensing robot and its AcuDose-Rx automated dispensing cabinets. UW Health is thus taking a hybrid approach to its pharmacy delivery.

The i.v.STATION ONCO offers a safe and accurate solution for compounding and dispensing IV admixtures and allows the healthcare system to streamline compounding processes, helping to simplify workflows, minimize employee exposure to potentially dangerous materials, and support improved care for oncology patients by eliminating medication errors. In addition, it significantly improves efficiency in drug delivery and allows clinicians to spend more time on patient-facing activities. The main University Hospital also has upgraded their medication automation cabinets throughout the hospital.

“Our plans for IV automation were first envisioned during reconstruction of our cancer center last year,” said Steve Rough, director of pharmacy at UW Hospitals and Clinics. “The goal is to keep both patients and employees safe, and to minimize medication waste.”

“The hybrid-pharmacy approach in our health system is designed to support existing demand while ensuring the best use of our clinical staff,” said Brad Ludwig, assistant director of pharmacy at UW Hospitals and Clinics. “We are working with members at all levels of our health system in achieving a safe and efficient medication delivery model.”

Earlier this spring, The University of Kansas Hospital announced it had selected Omnicell’s medication management automation and software across their multi-center health system, with installation expected to begin in the summer of 2016. The adoption of Omnicell’s automated technology and software will help ”streamline hospital workflow through seamless interoperability with the hospital’s Epic EHR system while enhancing inventory management and maintaining the highest level of patient safety,” according to a statement.

Like UW Health, The University of Kansas Hospital is turning to the automated delivery system to increase efficiency, improve patient safety, and streamline workflows for healthcare providers.  Christopher Bell, MS, PharmD, pharmacy assistant director at The University of Kansas Hospital explained, “With a project scope as large as ours, we needed a partner who worked with us. Ensuring that all of our facilities are working in concert to improve patient safety while reducing administrative burden was also a major goal. Omnicell offers us the level of interoperability with our EHR that would allow our nurses to queue up medications anywhere, enabling them to spend more time on direct patient care activities.”