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May 06, 2021

Why Innovative Hospitals Like Sentara Are Fully Automating Their Central Pharmacy

Dennis Wright 
Sr. Director, Product Marketing, Omnicell

Hospitals that continue to manually manage medications in the central pharmacy are playing a dangerous game. Inevitably a medication management error will happen. Yet for many hospitals, the fear of change keeps many pharmacies stuck with archaic solutions and processes that inevitably lead to problems.

Sentara is not one of those hospitals.

Always pushing the envelope on innovation, Sentara RMH Medical Center is an example of a hospital that never stops striving to adapt and adopt to achieve operational excellence with modern medication management solutions. For instance, although Sentara relied comfortably on a Central Pharmacy Robotic System for nearly two decades to automate their medication distribution, the hospital’s pharmacy team had bigger plans for a complete integrated solution.

To achieve that, pharmacy and IT partnered and developed a five-year strategic plan, including a comprehensive assessment of medication distribution models and supporting technology to maximize clinical time, support nursing’s patient care model, reduce manual processes and lower inventory costs.

One of the key solutions in this vision was Omnicell’s XR2 Automated Central Pharmacy Dispensing System that automates medication storage and dispensing to increase medication safety, improve operational efficiency, and maximize inventory control.

XR2 leverages 100% barcode scanning of all medication into and out of the system helping to reduce human error and enhance patient safety. “Not only is the XR2 system safer and more dependable, but it allows staff to function outside of supporting robot technology,” explained Jamin Engel, Sentara’s Director of Pharmacy.

Another key feature was the XR2 system’s inventory logic and dynamic inventory management system, which dispenses earliest-to-expire medications first, to reduce waste.

The XR2 system was instrumental in helping the hospital pharmacy shift from purchasing bulk medications to manufacturer unit-dose packaging forms. The cost difference was negligible and offset by eliminating consumable costs and reallocating packaging labor. Sentara’s increased reliance on a pharmacy automation dispensing system to streamline processes, reduce risk and improve patient care is a philosophy increasingly embraced by pharmacists everywhere.

“Our goal is to have 100% of medications leaving pharmacy to be verified for accuracy by being scanned using barcode technology,” said Engel. “The XR2 system significantly improves our ability to deliver on that goal. The more we move away from manual picking and verification of medications, the safer and more efficient our processes will be.”

To learn more about Sentara’s success, click here


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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