Is pharmacy automation replacing staff?

Pharmacy automation has been around since the 1990s.1 Over the years, pharmacy automation technologies have evolved and spread across the world. However, can automation replace pharmacists and their teams? The answer is no.

1. What is the place of automation in pharmacies?​

Automation plays a crucial role in pharmacy. It helps optimize processes, improve efficiency and ensure patient safety. It is used in various fields such as:

Inventory management: Automated inventory management systems help track medication and supply levels in real time. This helps minimize shortages or surpluses, ensuring that essential medicines are always available.

Drug distribution: Automation can perform tasks such as counting, packaging and labeling drugs without manual intervention. This reduces human error ensuring patients receive the right drugs and doses.

Dose preparation: Automated systems can prepare unit doses for patients.

Electronic medical records management: Automation helps manage electronic medical records of patients. They guarantee accurate monitoring of prescribed & served drugs, allergies and potential drug interactions. This improves patient safety and facilitates coordination of care between healthcare professionals.

Pharmacy automation improves operational efficiency, reduces errors and saves time.

2. What is the role of pharmacists and their teams?​

Pharmacists and their teams still have a critical role in the pharmacy, regardless of automation. Thanks to the time savings generated by automation, they can:

Better advise and monitor their patients: By automating repetitive manual tasks, pharmacy staff can focus on patients. They can provide personalized advice, particularly on medication side effects, drug interactions and other health-related aspects. This results in higher quality care and improved outcomes.

Optimize workflow: Optimizing workflow helps increase efficiency which in turn helps manage costs and lays the foundation for growth.

Offer value-added services and/or other revenue streams such as vaccine administration, travel clinics, weight loss clinics, …


In addition, certain tasks will have to be carried out by pharmacy teams to ensure optimal operation of the robotic systems. These are for example:

Replenishment of drug distribution systems.

Manual distribution of exception drugs which cannot be placed in automation for several reasons (e.g.: narcotics, allergens, fractions of tablets, etc.).

Ensure you have a continuous workflow. With the SynMed XF for example, one operator can feed and monitor the system and comfortably produce 1,000 multi-dose blister cards per week.  

System maintenance.

Automation helps pharmacists take a more active role with their patients, thereby increasing positive medical outcomes, improving the patient experience, and positively impacting their health.

To learn more about automating your pharmacy, talk to one of our specialists!