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OHP-006 Electronic prescribing and robotic dispensing: the need for a taxonomy to compare research papers
  1. R Beard
  1. Sunderland Royal Hospital, Pharmacy, Sunderland, UK


Background There are many papers on Electronic Prescribing and papers on Robotic Dispensing However, these terms are sometimes used generically, and the range of technical differences in the systems make it difficult for a reader to assess functionality in the papers.

Purpose So that hospital pharmacists can identify which technological features deliver the most suitable benefits for their own pharmacy, a classification is proposed to grade the functionality in these systems.

Materials and methods A structured review of the literature found many references to EP, and also to RD, but only a few where pharmacies had linked both together and expressed benefits (1) (2) (3) (4). A comparison of EP systems paper by Cantrell (5) highlighted the problems of not having a defined taxonomy of functionality. Goundry-Smith described theoretical functionality (6).

Results The following taxonomy is suggested

EP level 1: Basic messaging system from ward to pharmacy

EP level 2 level 1 plus electronic medicines administration record

EP Level 3: Level 2 plus safety alerts

EP level 4: EP level 3 plus direct links to hospital patient database;

EP level 5: EP level 4 plus direct linking to pharmacy stock

EP level 6: EP level 5 plus linking to other relevant departments (e.g. pathology) for monitoring

RD level 1 Basic ‘mechanical shelf’ (simplest machine design) or unit dose.

RD level 2: RD level 1 plus means of automatic refilling (eg, a hopper)

RD level 3: RD level 2 plus automatic labellers

Rd level 4 RD level 3 plus direct link to EP system for automatic picking of medicines

Conclusions Papers describing functionality could describe the EP-RD systems as EP3 RD 0, or EP 5 RD 4 etc., to indicate to the reader what systems are in place at the point of publishing. This would aid identification of what features deliver which benefits.


  1. Reifsteck M, Swanson T, Dallas M. Driving out errors through tight integration between software and automation. Journal of Healthcare Information Management 2006;20:p35-39

  2. Gonidec P, Diallo ML, Djoussa-Kambou S, Guizard M. Performance of an automated dispensing system combined with a computerised prescription order entry. Annales Pharmaceutiques Francaises 2009;67:p84-90

  3. Beard RJ Smith P. ‘Electronic prescribing and Robotic Dispensing: A case study.’ 2013 SpringerPlus 2, 295

  4. Beard RJ. ‘How can Electronic Prescribing systems contribute to Clinical Governance’ 2009; M. Prof. Thesis University of Sunderland, England

  5. Cantrill JA, Abdel-Qader DH, Tully MP. Satisfaction predictors and attitudes towards electronic prescribing systems in three UK hospitals 2010 Pharmacy World & Science, 32; 581-593

  6. Goundry-Smith S. Principles of Electronic Prescribing: 2008 Springer Press ISBN 978-1-84800-234-0

No conflict of interest.

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