The pharmacy at 800 N. 2nd St. is now the only independent pharmacy in Northwest Iowa to utilize the new SP 200 Robotic Prescription Dispensing System from ScriptPro.
The new system now in operation performs the time-consuming tasks of counting pills, filling vials, and labeling prescriptions, using advanced robotics and automation. With the system, pharmacists have more time to answer questions and counsel their customers.
"The SP 200 robot actually does the work of a pharmacist, which serves the industry well because there is a shortage of pharmacists. The purchase of the SP 200 was a very large investment, but it allows us to be more efficient and offer our customers more personal care. This is necessary to deal with the lower reimbursements from insurance companies, including Medicare Part D."
How does the robot work?
Once a prescription is entered into a pharmacy computer system, the laser-driven robotic arm of the SP 200 determines the correct size vial, then finds the specified drug. Using bar code scanning, it verifies the location of the drug. The robotic arm then holds the vial and counts the pills as they are automatically dropped into the vial. The arm then places the vial on a short conveyer belt and the patient label is applied, complete with medication warning labels.
Bar code scanning is used throughout the system to assure that the correct drug is given to the patient. The pharmacist makes the final check for accuracy, comparing the pills in the vial with a computer screen image of the drug.
The system can count and fill up to 150 prescriptions per hour, so customers get their medications promptly, even during peak pharmacy hours. There also is a back-up power supply and extra protection built in for electrical surges or failures, explained Bartel.
Bartel had the system installed in August and had a ScriptPro trainer come to Cherokee to educate the entire Valley Pharmacy staff.
All in all, according to Bartel, the new robotic system helps pharmacies lower operating costs, reduce dispensing errors, and increase customer service. The large, bold print on the labels also is a benefit for many seniors.
Valley Pharmacy has been at its present location since 1992 and in Cherokee since 1980. Other features of the business are a professional compounding lab, and the gift and décor shop.