|Robots at the new Stanford Hospital will make day-to-day operations easier and more efficient / Photo Credit: Spotmatik Ltd (via Shutterstock)|
23 delivery robots will travel on pre-programmed routes throughout the new Stanford Hospital and three pharmacy robots will store and package medication, preventing employee injuries, reduce errors, and free up staff, according to Gary Fitz, who is the vice president and chief of applications for Stanford Health Care.
He added, “The real value of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians comes when they use their clinical knowledge to care for patients, not to count pills.” Likewise, routine activities like pushing a cart for 30 minutes is not job-enriching. A job becomes more enriching if people can talk to patients or dedicate time to figuring out “how to get better supplies.”
For instance, the 4-foot TUGs will serve as autonomous couriers that will haul heavy loads of supplies between the central loading dock at 300 Pasteur Drive and the new hospital at 500 Pasteur Drive. The TUGs can move about two miles per hour and haul more than a half a ton. The robots utilize lasers and GPS to create a 3D map of their surroundings. This way, the robots can determine “if they need to stop” or maneuver around an obstacle.
The robots will then convert the 3D map to 2D, allowing managers to staff to remotely track the machines in real-time. The TUGs can’t speak but they can say a few phrases like “crossing hallway” and “TUG has arrived.” On the other hand, three giant robotic machines will be responsible for storing pills for patients. These robots don’t get exhausted or make mistakes when fulfilling drug orders for patients.
Two BoxPickers store nearly $5 million worth of medications. Assistant director of pharmacy Douglas Del Paggio explained, “if I’m in a rush, I may accidentally pull the wrong one, or the wrong drug is in the wrong bin — in these robots, it is all bar-code scanned and checked, so it’s very accurate.” The robots also keep track of the inventory and generate new orders for the drug wholesaler each day.
A third robot called Pilipick can count bulk medications, packing around 1,000 doses per hour and sliding them into barcoded packets. Del Paggio stated, “This allows our pharmacists and technicians to instead spend more of their time with physicians, nurses, and most importantly, patients and family members.”