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PILLS pharmacy robot debuts at Redding VA clinic

Pills robot

The VA Northern California Health Care System recently completed a robotic technology project to improve medication dispensing and patient care.

Drs. Janet Carter and Elaine Hearney started the pharmacy integrated locally labeled supply (PILLS) initiative in 2013 to find ways to increase compliance and improve Veteran care.

The robotic technology allows VANCHCS pharmacy to dispense a set of medications organized in separate packaging for convenience. Several tablets may be bundled together with markings to make it easy for Veterans to know when to take medicine and when refills are needed.

Here's what Dr. Hearney's patients are saying about the initiative.

​​​​​"Love" the new blister packaging.

"It is easy to open, and I can tell if I took my medications correctly."

"The color-coding helps me take the correct pills at the correct time." 

Our home-based primary care team is equally excited because it helps them remember when to administer the medications. Nurses have also said the blister packs reduce the risk of error and prevents them from spending hours organizing pills for patients.

This approach reduces human error because the robot is programmed to complete prescriptions accurately. Pharmacists review the packages before distribution to patients. 

The Redding VA Clinic is currently using the PILLS robotic system. Patients with cognitive, memory, mobility and vision impairment get priority to receive this service.

The PILLS team would like to thank the following individuals for their contributions to the success of this project.

  • Dr. William Cahill
  • Dr. Anupam Agarwal
  • Dr. Cynthia Alli
  • Dr. Alon Ben-Ari
  • Dr. Savitha Werghis
  • Dr. Rebecca Chamorro
  • Dr. Bernadette Dugoni
  • Dr. Scott Carter
  • Mr. John Hinson
  • Mr. Georges
  • Mr. Donald Black
  • Ms. Rita Munson
  • Mr. David Stockwell
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