University Hospital board approves purchase of automated pharmacy systems

As University Hospital looks to start its 200th year next year, it is turning to robots for help.

 

The board of University, which traces its history to City Hospital founded in 1818, approved $4.4. million on Thursday to purchase three automated pharmacy systems that employ robot arm technology developed for automotive company Tesla to pick up and compile drugs. The hospital will recover the purchase price within four years through savings on drugs and personnel, said Teresa Buschbacher, vice president of University Heart & Vascular Institute.

A new automated IV Station, for instance, will allow University to create its own IV solutions and pre-filled syringes it was buying from a vendor for about $1.2 million a year, and “will be a solution we control on-site,” she said. Another for cancer drugs will be more efficient, cost effective and help shield clinicians from potentially harmful exposures, Buschbacher said. The systems will free up nurses from having to get the drugs together from machines themselves, which can take up about a quarter of their shifts, she said.

“They’ll be able to spend more time at the bedside with their patients,” Bushbacher said. It will also cut down on the personnel needed in the pharmacy, who were doing many of these things by hand, and remove the possibility of human error, said Marie Jackson, director of the pharmacy.

“It’s going to eliminate a lot of that manual workload,” she said.

In its last meeting of the year, University’s board also approved a budget for next year that envisions its revenues and expenses, both increasing by $33.2 million a year and ending with about the same $10.2 million operating margin expected this year.

Board chair Levi Hill IV said University plans to celebrate its 200th anniversary continuously next year.

“It will be a party all year long,” he said.

 

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

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