“We believe they will help us improve patients’ safety even further,” Dr Prof Prasit Watanapa, dean of Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, said yesterday. The hopital now serves between 8,000 and 10,000 outpatients daily. Each patient is prescribed more than one medicine on average.
The hospital’s director, Asst Prof Dr Visit Vamvanij, believed the huge number of patients and the many complicated cases the hospital handles were factors
behind some inaccuracies in the medicine-dispensing process.
During a press conference where the robots were unveiled, Visit said the preparation of three in 1,000 prescriptions have had some errors.
“These inaccuracies have not affected patients because they are detected by our pharmacists prior to dispensing,” he said. “But we aim to achieve zero inaccuracy even during the preparation process. We believe robots are our answer.”
The automatic medicine-dispensing system was developed through a collaboration of the Thailand Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences
, the Institute of FIeld RoBOtics (FIBO), and Supreme Hitera. “It’s an invention by Thais,” Prasit said.
Siriraj Hospital will be the first hospital to install the system. “If the systems work fine at our facility, they should work fine elsewhere too,” Prasit added. Visit said the systems might increase the expenses of the hospital, but they were worth implementing, as they promised to reduce accuracy and better protect patients.
Assoc Prof Dr Cherdchai Nopmaneejumruslers said the robots would be able to dispense 85 per cent of medicines and the remainder would be handled by staff. “With the help of robots, we expect to complete each prescription within 15 minutes,” Cherdchai said.