· Aug 11, 2021 3m read

Interoperability with IRIS and Pharmacy Robotics

I have attached a document that describes the product I have developed called NiPaRobotica Pharmacy. This is an interface I developed that accepts Pharmacy Dispense Requests and converts the line items on the order into dispense dialogues which it sends to pharmacy robots. I deployed the interface into 3 Hospital pharmacies two of which had 6 robots that were arranged in such a way that the dispense chutes channelled medications to desks by the pharmacists sitting in windows serving 1200 patients a day. The robots cut the average waiting time from 2 hours down to one hour. I then deployed the interface into 6 sites that were purpose-built in locations close to the homes of the patients with chronic conditions such as TB, HIV, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Hypertension and Asthma. The mission statement of this project was "Take the Medications to the Patient". These sites have 6 ATM-style Pharmacy Dispense Units (PDU) that has an interface allowing the patient to communicate with a call centre pharmacist. Behind each PDU is a large robot containing several thousand medications. My application sends a dispense instruction to the robot which dispenses the item onto a conveyor belt that carries the medication until it is positioned below a printer. The printer has been sent the contents of a pharmacy label with the patient's name, dosage instructions and other notes. The printer drops and attaches the label to the medication packaging. The item travels a bit further and a sponge pushes down on the label to more firmly attach it to the packaging. The conveyor belt then transfers the item to a bin in the PDU and once all items have been dispensed the Patient is able to open a flap on the PDU and retrieve the items. The most significant aspect of this project is that it removed the need for the patients to take a day off work, travel long distances to the clinic where their condition is monitored, collect their medications and travel home. By placing these sites in the high density and very poor neighbourhoods where the patients live means that they can pop into anyone f these sites and collect their medications on the way to or from work. There have been very few changes in the world of pharmacies since the late Victorian age. The ingredients have become more specialised and in many cases, life-saving. Penicillin, vaccines, pain relief, cancer therapies, immunotherapies have altered our ability to manage conditions that historically would have killed patients however the process of dispensing those medications has remained stuck in the depths of hospital pharmacies or high street chains that sell more gimmicks than medicines. The application does far more than transfer dispense requests from the pharmacy application to the robots and these features are discussed in the document. The application has been modified to support FHIR messages related to Inventory, medication requests and responses and medication statements. The document is in PDF format so that I could upload it to the DC site however I suggest that you use Adobe to print it or convert it into Word. 

Discussion (2)0
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Ha Ha Ha Robert, I love you! Sure Robots can do simple things, they can do very mundane and repetitive things but they can do tasks with extreme accuracy and when it comes to things like Pharmacy Robotics they could be programmed to question the validity of a prescription if it is aware that there is an adverse drug interaction between two drugs on a script (sure, the pharmacy app may be able to do that to but generally pharmacy systems are built to capture a script issued by a doctor and the general attitude of most pharmacists (human) is that if the doctor has ordered something then "Doctor Knows Best"

With regards to the Robot kits such as the one I am building, it is based on a system called STEM, Scientific - Technology - Engineering - Mathematics and it is used in an educational context to teach everyone fro kids through Adults about Engineering Robotics, Programming (Python) and Mathematics. I am all in favour of system like this and I wish that I had been born 50 years later than I was because I could be learning things at 10 years old that I am, at 58, only getting to learn now.

Furthermore, Python is a gateway to other scientific and analytical paradigms such as Data Science, ML and AI and as I am not expecting the robots to take over the world just yet (though I am not convinced that that would be such a bad thing given how badly the Humans are managing this planet and the future of mankind).  

You should watch a program called "AlphaGo" which is about a team of AI developers wh took on the challenge of developing a program to play Go, that ancient game of black and white stones on a grid board. You should hear the Go believers and their view on Go being almost a philosophy rather than just a game. Great documentary, thought provoking.