May 2002

St. John’s in Joplin installs robotic pharmacist

St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Joplin, Mo., has installed robotics technology to automate the handling of prescription medication. The Robot-Rx is a centralized robotic drug distribution system that automates storage, retrieval and dispensing of unit-dosed medication. The robot, which uses bar-code technology, is highly accurate: to date, Robot-Rx has dispensed more than 45 million doses without an error. Hospitals that use the robotic system have also realized reduced inventory and labor costs. "This technology will not replace pharmacists, but rather increase their time to counsel patients and consult with doctors," said Jack Udell, PharmD, director of pharmacy at St. John’s. The robot can retrieve one medication in less than three seconds and can fill about 700 prescriptions every hour. For more information, contact Robin McAlester, media/promotions coordinator for St. John’s, at