Meeting the 24/7/365 Pharmacy Services Challenge

Posted on June 18, 2014

by Craig A. Boyce , RPh

This recent post Seven day working for pharmacy highlights the growing trend that we need to provide 24/7 comprehensive pharmacy services.  While we can all agree in theory, the real question is how do we provide seamless services with the reality of today’s constrained budgets and staff resources?

Efficiency of operations is paramount to meeting this challenge.  This means doing what is needed, at exactly the right time and location, without waste.  If you examine what we do today, you can easily find several hours every day that is wasted.  We spend a lot of time walking and talking about what needs done, instead of providing services that have value. Most of our quality control is retrospective – we check what is done and then re-do the bad work, instead of using systems that prevent errors from occurring.  Errors and rework waste both time and consumables.  We must build better systems to eliminate these inefficiencies – this is paramount to finding the time needed to staff comprehensive services 24/7/365.

Automation is the key component to these efficiency gains.  Pharmacy has been very slow to adopt efficiency gains that have been proven by industries that are heavily automated.  Eliminating the human from repetitive and error-prone tasks not only offloads that labor to the automated system, but also ensures that errors are detected and prevented before they occur.  This saves time and consumable dollars that can be used for tasks which automation cannot yet perform.

As example, consider compounding of patient-specific injectable medication doses.  Each one is a different dose and requires calculations, manipulations, and double checks at every step to ensure that the bag or syringe of fluid is accurate and free of contaminants.  Each step is an opportunity for error and it is very difficult to definitively guarantee accuracy solely by inspecting a clear bag of fluid.

Intelligent Hospital Systems’ RIVA Fully-Automated IV Compounding System has been proven successful in reducing errors, eliminating waste, and cutting labor time spent in manual compounding.   By using RIVA for compounding of patient-specific medication doses, facilities have increased the number of preparation batches each day, which cuts waste of doses that are not administered because the order changes or the patient is discharged, and eliminates wasted labor that can be redeployed in tasks which give real value to the patient and health care system.

More information on RIVA is available at

Craig Boyce is a pharmacist on staff at Intelligent Hospital Systems, designer and manufacturer of RIVA a Fully Automated IV Compounding System

Blog | Efficiency