What Is the Autonomous Pharmacy?

If you visited the Omnicell booth at the ASHP Midyear meeting in December 2018, you probably saw and heard a lot about the autonomous pharmacy. What is it all about, and what does it mean to your health system? It essentially is a vision for the future of digital medication management, and a vision that we’re already building toward today.

Incremental Change Is No Longer Enough

We believe healthcare is at a crossroads today and radical change in medication management is needed. Medication costs are rising at alarming rates, the opioid crisis is putting further scrutiny on controlled substance use and controls, and medication nonadherence is taking a toll on healthcare costs and patient outcomes.

Meanwhile, nursing and pharmacy staff are often stuck performing repetitive administrative tasks that keep them away from patient care. According to an ASHP national survey in 2015, pharmacy directors estimated that only 24% of pharmacists’ time is spent on clinical activities.

To combat these challenges, Omnicell envisions a medication management infrastructure in which manual, error-prone activities are replaced by efficient, automated processes—ideally with 100% precision. A more fully automated pharmacy would mean lower costs and increased safety. Pharmacists could move to the center of patient care and practice at the top of their license.

Autonomous Pharmacy Roadmap Is Underway

As you may have seen in our ASHP booth, we are already delivering on a roadmap to support the autonomous pharmacy with a combination of advanced automation, data intelligence, and service solutions.

Recently launched products such as our robotic XR2 Automated Central Pharmacy System are helping customers replace manual steps with automated workflows.

However, automation alone is not enough. We are harnessing the data from automated systems to deliver intelligent insights. For example, with Omnicell Performance Center™ our expert analysts use predictive intelligence to help health systems optimize the medication supply chain, navigate drug shortages, and address other challenges.

Rising Higher Through the Cloud

We plan to build out solutions to support the autonomous pharmacy on cloud infrastructure, which enables more nimble innovation and greater digital connectivity across our systems. That means you can spend less time managing disparate systems and more time focusing on what’s most important— the patient.

We are focusing our comprehensive medication management portfolio on three key areas:

  • Automation – Solutions designed to digitize and streamline workflows.
  • Intelligence – Actionable insights to better understand medication usage and improve pharmacy supply chain management.
  • Work – Expert services that serve as an extension of pharmacy operations to support improved efficiency, regulatory compliance, and patient outcomes.

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Omnicell's customer newsletter, The Capsule, delivers concise, practical articles. It is currently focused on information and resources to aid health systems as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

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