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July 23, 2021

Pursuing the Vision of Autonomous Pharmacy

Terri Albarano, PharmD
Director, Autonomous Pharmacy, Omnicell

There are many barriers facing health system pharmacy today: Limited resources, disparate systems that lack interoperability, and increasing regulatory burdens, just to name a few. With the pace of change and continually shifting priorities, it’s difficult to pinpoint where we should focus our efforts.

One area where we see opportunity to enhance pharmacy practice is the implementation of technology. The status quo is failing both practitioners and patients. Many of us are spending our days on administrative functions, keeping us from the patients we have been trained to serve. More than that, our time is spent on manual processes that are causing the vast majority of errors.

The Autonomous Pharmacy Board has recently been formed to support the vision of the Autonomous Pharmacy. As an industry, we recognize the opportunity of technology to enhance safety, improve efficiency, and shift our focus to higher-value clinical care activities. The Autonomous Pharmacy is a framework designed to shift from inefficient, error-prone, manual processes to intelligent technology and automated tools that protect patients and empower practitioners.

The Autonomous Pharmacy Advisory Board is a coalition of leaders in healthcare pharmacy who are working collectively to transform the pharmacy care delivery model through the use of technology designed to achieve a fully autonomous pharmacy. This past April, these leaders published commentary in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP) detailing the opportunity to achieve zero-error medication management through the Autonomous Pharmacy. The commentary describes a strategic framework outlining the five levels of the Autonomous Pharmacy, and how to progress through those stages to optimize the medication use process and implement strategies for realizing a fully autonomous pharmacy.

More recently, Mark Sullivan, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, FASHP, and  Jon Jackson, PharmD, MMHC, Health IT Director, presented how Vanderbilt University Medical Center is working to overcome the digital integration and operational challenges within the medication use process and the potential benefits of automating manual workflows to move clinicians closer to the bedside.

I encourage you to watch this replay of the Becker’s Hospital Review presentation, where these industry leaders present the vision of the Autonomous Pharmacy and its importance to the future of the medication use process.

Learn how the five components of the Autonomous Pharmacy framework can drive organizational value. Then, take this self-assessment developed by the Advisory Board to help plan your strategy for advancing toward a fully autonomous pharmacy.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s). These views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time and may not be held in perpetuity.

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