Impact of Robotic Dispensing Machines in German Pharmacies on Business Performance Indicators
To assess the impact of robotic dispensing machines in community pharmacies on staff efficiency and sales of over-the-counter drugs. Setting: The study was done on 253 community pharmacies in Germany that use a robotic dispensing machine manufactured by ROWA during 2008. Method: Data concerning the financial and economic impact of using a robotic dispensing machine in community pharmacies was gathered using a structured questionnaire and analysed in terms of its financial implications. Key findings: The response rate was 29%. In most pharmacies (79%) the robotic dispensing machine was retrofitted. In 59% of the pharmacies additional space was gained for self-service and behind-the-counter display. As a result of using a robotic dispensing machine, personnel costs were reduced by an average of 4.6% during the first 12 months after start-up. Over-the-counter sales increased in the same period by an average of 6.8%. Despite average initial costs of 118,000 euros, total costs within the first 12 months fell in 50% of cases and at least remained the same in 44%. Conclusions: On average, robotic dispensing machines lead to modest savings in personnel costs and slight increases in sales of over-the-counter drugs. Substantial savings can be achieved only if the staffing level is adapted to the changed personnel requirements.
Key words: Community pharmacy, Germany, Robotic dispensing machine, Robot.