CONTACT: TOM MOORE
Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications
8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: March 7, 2002
UI Hospitals and Clinics using robotic pharmacy dispensing system
Officials at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics announced today that
pharmaceutical specialists are now using the HOMERUS Automated Pharmacy Dispensing
System to dispense unit dose medications for inpatients.
The technology found in HOMERUS allows users to select bar-coded medications
for patients and enables dispensing of a 24-hour supply each day. The robot
also has a packaging component that packages medications in unit dose packages,
labels them with a bar code, and automatically transfers to storage.
Paul Abramowitz, Pharm.D., director of the Department of Pharmaceutical
Care at UI Hospitals and Clinics, in making the announcement said, "We
are excited about the use of this technology to improve the safety of the
medication use system. The robot is very accurate in dispensing medications
and incorporates numerous safeguards to ensure the right medication is dispensed
for the patient. It also allows our pharmacists more time to work with our
physicians and nurses to optimize medication therapy for our patients."
Abramowitz is also a professor of clinical and administrative pharmacy in
the UI College of Pharmacy.
The HOMERUS system is supplied by Pyxis Corporation of San Diego, Calif.
UI Hospitals and Clinics is the third medical center in the United States
to install this technology. HOMERUS systems are currently in operation at
North Kansas City Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and the Merit Care Health
System in Fargo, N.D. HOMERUS measures 9 feet 9 inches tall, 21 feet long
and approximately 14 feet wide. Overall weight of all the components is more
than 8,000 pounds. The HOMERUS is designed to hold more than 15,000 unit doses
when fully loaded.
The HOMERUS iPAK packaging component packages approximately 500 doses per
hour. The dispensing system is capable of filling approximately 500 doses
per hour. It is expected that HOMERUS will dispense approximately 4,500 doses
per day for inpatients. Future enhancements are planned to also allow HOMERUS
to prepare medications for the Pyxis MEDSTATION cabinets currently in place
on patient care units. MEDSTATION automated dispensing units provide clinicians
with secure access to medications on the patient care unit. Clinicians enter
identification code and password and select the patient and the drug that
they need; a medication drawer then opens with the specific medication for
the patient. The MEDSTATION helps improve the accuracy of selecting medications
and also records that the medication has been removed for the patient. Many
of the medications stocked in the cabinet are urgently needed critical care
medications or controlled substances with significant documentation requirements.
UI Hospitals and Clinics is implementing an extensive process to automate
the dispensing of medications. UI Hospitals and Clinics is an 813-bed hospital
that also operates clinics that see approximately 790,000 outpatients per
year. In addition to operating a comprehensive inpatient pharmacy system,
the Department of Pharmaceutical Care operates three ambulatory care pharmacies
that serve clinic patients seen at UI Hospitals and Clinics. Currently, UI
Hospitals and Clinics deploys two robots that prepare prescriptions to assist
pharmacists in dispensing outpatient prescriptions. In addition to the HOMERUS
system, the Department of Pharmaceutical Care also uses the Pyxis MEDSTATION
units on approximately 40 inpatient areas. Total cost of the technology deployed
to date is more than $2 million.
Studies have found that automated medication dispensing systems result in
fewer errors in dispensing medications. In addition, a nationwide shortage
of pharmacists has resulted in many hospitals reducing pharmacy services due
to a lack of pharmacists. Demand for pharmacists has increased due to significant
increases in the number of medications marketed and large increases in the
number of prescriptions written. Automation improves the efficiency of the
dispensing process and allows pharmacists to focus on education of patients
on their medication and working with prescribers on improving the selection
and use of medications.
A subsidiary of Dublin Ohio-based Cardinal Health, San Diego-based Pyxis
Corporation (http://www.pyxis.com/) was
established in 1987 with a simple objective: to revolutionize the way medication
and supplies are distributed within health care facilities. Pyxis automated
dispensing technology allows health care providers to streamline the medication
and medical-supply distribution process, cut costs and save time, and it enables
pharmacists and nurses to direct more energy to clinical solutions resulting
in better patient care. The company currently serves more than 4,500 customers
All Pyxis products are part of the Pyxis SAFETYnet, a company-wide commitment
to provide industry-leading technology, training programs, customer service
and support that enable health-care providers to deliver safer, more efficient,
high-quality patient care.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the
UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care,
medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI
Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.