Now ubiquitous throughout health care systems, automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) no longer serve simply as locked storage compartments; rather, most facilities rely on their ADCs to serve as the primary means for drug dispensing on the units. While it may be tempting to take this automation for granted and focus your energies on new technologies, many opportunities remain for improving the effectiveness of these evolving machines.
Despite widespread ADC implementations, safe ADC stocking practices are not universal and there are several ways to improve ADC usefulness. Review your stocking procedures to ensure that bar code scanning capabilities are preventing the placement of products in the wrong location. Ensure that your interfaces allow complete communication between the cabinets and the pharmacy information system. Take advantage of the full capacity of your reporting options so as not to miss opportunities to provide additional staff training and education. If you are not satisfied with the reporting options from your vendor, review the available add-on software packages for possible improvement.
Just as it is important to regularly review usage reports to determine if any slow-moving items should be removed from the ADC, it is equally important to regularly examine the number of line items included in order to increase your distribution efficiency. As the number of line items expands in your cabinets, remember to consider whether your ADCs are overburdened—should each machine be serving fewer beds? Be sure your special populations are appropriately served by the ADCs; for example, do you have separate ADCs for pediatric patients, including the ER?
It is vital to work with your vendor anytime there is an improved functionality you desire. Perhaps you would like to see medications approaching expiration highlighted in your stocking reports or you want a forced scanning function for high-risk products. It is unlikely that you are alone in desiring these upgrades, so add your voice to the fray and ask your vendor to work with you in making functionality improvements that will deliver the patient safety you need.
All the best,