Free State gets first pharmacy of the future in SA – a win during Covid-19

Right ePharmacy has launched the first 3 in 1 electronic medicine dispensing and distribution facility in the country in the Free State, providing chronic patients with fast access to their medication, while allowing them to stay away from hospitals and clinics and safe from Covid-19.

Belinda Strydom, Right ePharmacy automation manager, says: “Getting public patients out of facilities to limit Covid-19 infections for their protection and that of health workers is important and Right ePharmacy’s advanced technology has made this possible.”

In Twin City Mall in Bloemfontein, patients can collect their chronic medication from a Collect & Go smart locker and an advanced ‘ATM pharmacy’ that dispenses repeat chronic medication in under three minutes and allows patient to talk to a remote pharmacist. Right ePharmacy has added another layer of convenience for Free State patients, with its Central Dispensing Unit (CDU).

“This unit has dedicated pharmacists who package and label medication daily and send it out for the eighteen Collect & Go smart lockers in the Free State.

“The advantage for the patient is that it’s really quick to collect medication. They can either go to the ATM pharmacy or a smart locker where the medication package is ready, making their pick-up time less than a minute,” Strydom says.

Free State flagship province

She adds that the Free State is Right ePharmacy’s flagship province for the 3 in 1 services due to the long distances that people have to travel to collect their medication.

“The Free State area covers vast distances, so the dispensing unit is strategically situated so that if the programme expands to nearby districts in the Free State, the unit can supply to those districts too,” says Strydom. The CDU is one of only two on the continent, with the second one located in Zambia.

In the Free State, Right ePharmacy has site agents stationed at hospitals and clinics, who facilitate referrals of patients to the CDU where it is captured. Once patients start using Right ePharmacy’s services, they can collect repeat medication at the ATM pharmacy or smart locker.

The CDU also packages and dispenses medication for local old age homes, limiting the time the elderly spend in clinics and hospitals.

Strydom says that the 3 in 1 services, which are part of the Department of Health’s strategy to reduce congestion in public health facilities, are funded by The Global Fund and USAID.

Patients can ask to be registered to use the ATM pharmacy or the Collect & Go Smart Lockers at their public healthcare facility.

Collect & Go smart lockers are pick up points for chronic medication are available at 18 sites in the Free State:

BloemfonteinTwin City Shopping Centre, MUCPP CHC, Batho Clinic, Gabriel Dichaba Clinic, National District Hospital
BethlehemBohlokong Clinic, Paballong Clinic and Phekelong
FicksburgMeqheleng Clinic  
HarrismithHarrismith Clinic
Petrus SteynRearabetswe Clinic
PuthaitjhabaBluegum Bosh, Bolata Clinic, Elizabeth Ross District Hospital, Phutaiditjaba Clinic, Qholaqhwe, Tebang Clinic and Tseki Clinic

Right ePharmacy is a division of NPO Right to Care.

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