Patients Flip (Ratings) Over Robotic Efficiency at Cherry Point Pharmacy

By Annette M. Boyle

Pharmacy Technician Ashley Rivas conducts inventory on the new robotic dispensing system at Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point , NC. Navy photo by Eric Sesit

Pharmacy Technician Ashley Rivas conducts inventory on the new robotic
dispensing system at Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point on Marine Corps Air
Station Cherry Point , NC. Navy photo by Eric Sesit

CHERRY POINT, NC—Prior to a renovation late last year, patients at Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point’s pharmacy left negative feedback twice as often as positive. Installation of a robotic pharmacy system reversed those numbers, however. Today, two-thirds of comments are upbeat.

The change in tone has good cause. The new robotic system enabled the pharmacy to reduce wait times by 50%, addressing one of the chief causes of pre-renovation complaints. The upgraded equipment and new processes also decreased fill times for refills by one full day, said Lt. Anthony Wyble, PharmD, Medical Service Corp, and Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point Pharmacy department head.

The pharmacy is in the clinic on Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, and serves 33,000 active-duty members and DoD beneficiaries.

In addition to increased efficiency, the high-tech robots have led to more opportunities for high-touch connections. “We’re seeing increased interaction between staff and patients, resulting in not only a better experience for our patients, but a more-rewarding work environment for our staff,” Wyble told U.S. Medicine.

The new technology has dramatically streamlined the process of dispensing medications, he said. Each of the two robots can hold up to 200 different types of medication, which they autofill when a prescription is activated at the drop-off window. The machines handle the filling, labeling and capping process. A pharmacist then verifies that the correct medication, dose and quantity is going to the right person.

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