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July 13, 2015

Robotic ePharmacy to revolutionise rural healthcare

Roll out in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, could spell the end of long travels by patients in rural areas.

By Joao Lima

Patients living in rural areas of Scotland will soon be able to access pharmaceutical services via a robotic ‘pharmacy kiosk’.

In partnership with ARX UK, NHS Grampian, the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and Robert Gordon University, Atos is rolling out the service in Aberdeenshire.

The venture is part-funded by the Scottish Government and has been developed as part of a research project led by the University of Aberdeen.

People living in the Inverallochy village can use the kiosk to speak to a pharmacist via webcam and access either dispensed or recommended ‘over the counter’ medicines near to their home.

The £150,000 solution took four years to develop and communicates directly with the closest pharmacy in Fraserburgh.

The booth also allows users to deposit prescriptions, which can be filled and collected later, and access other standard pharmacy services such as the Minor Ailment Service (MAS).

David Green, Systems Integration Business Director for Atos, said: "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 NHSScotland systems and services".

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Professor Christine Bond, Chair in General Practice and Primary Care at the University of Aberdeen, said: "People in rural areas are faced with having to travel further to access a pharmacist and as such there is the risk they may be more likely just to buy medicine without taking advice from a pharmacist.

"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."

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