To explore community pharmacy technician workflow change after implementation of an automated robotic prescription-filling device.
At an independent community pharmacy in rural Mayville, WI, pharmacy technicians were observed before and 3 months after installation of an automated robotic prescription-filling device. The main outcome measures were sequences and timing of technician workflow steps, workflow interruptions, automation surprises, and workarounds.
Of the 77 and 80 observations made before and 3 months after robot installation, respectively, 17 different workflow sequences were observed before installation and 38 after installation. Average prescription filling time was reduced by 40 seconds per prescription with use of the robot. Workflow interruptions per observation increased from 1.49 to 1.79 (P = 0.11), and workarounds increased from 10% to 36% after robot use.
Although automated prescription-filling devices can increase efficiency, workflow interruptions and workarounds may negate that efficiency. Assessing changes in workflow and sequencing of tasks that may result from the use of automation can help uncover opportunities for workflow policy and procedure redesign.