Robot pharmacy kiosk could transform how we access medicine

A "robotic pharmacy kiosk" could soon transform how residents of Scotland's rural areas access their medicine.

Currently being trialled in Aberdeenshire, the 150,000 robot kiosk allows users to speak to a pharmacist remotely via webcam, safely accessing the relevant medicines.

Professor Christine Bond, chair in general practice and primary care at the University of Aberdeen, which developed the scheme, said: "The role of the pharmacist and the services they provide has expanded greatly in recent years so in rural areas where it is not financially viable to have a pharmacy, the local community are disadvantaged.

"We were tasked with exploring whether pharmacy services could be supplied remotely via video link but then we were introduced [to] Atos and they were able to bring their expertise to the project."

The project has been developed in conjunction with digital services firm Atos and in partnership with ARX UK, NHS Grampian, the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and Robert Gordon University.

The Scottish government is also part-funding the scheme, and the kiosk currently being trialled in a village called Inverallochy is linked to a hub' pharmacy in neighbouring Fraserburgh.

However, the ambition is to use pharmacies across the country as hubs where residents can collect medicines.

People can also collect some dispensed medicines from the kiosk, as well as deposit prescriptions for collection later and access services such as the Minor Ailment Service (MAS).

"This exciting innovation in patient care will extend existing community pharmacy and ePharmacy services and offer the chance to test the kiosk's potential to provide new additional services which are integrated with existing NHS Scotland systems and services," said David Green, systems integration business director for Atos in Scotland.

Bond added: "This is a research project so the reality of taking the kiosk forward as a viable solution to the needs of rural communities will face a number of hurdles.

"Having said that, I think there is considerable scope to expand the kind of services and connectivity the kiosk could have, so there are challenges, but also opportunities."

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

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