A Breakthrough in Pharmacy Technology

Going to the hospital is not only frightening but it is also troubling. For example, when you buy medicines, you will usually wait long because the queuing is extensive. The long line is enough to discourage you of not purchasing the medicines. That is not advisable. Thankfully, there is now a breakthrough in pharmacy technology here in Singapore.


If you happen to go to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), you will notice an improvement in their medication dispensing. Traditionally, staffs in TTSH would endure the manual picking, packing and assembling of medicines. The process is tedious and time consuming because staffs need to carefully count and check the medicines before giving to the patients.

The traditional method is prone to error because things might be confusing sometimes especially with the dosages. However, there is a breakthrough in pharmacy technology that will make things easier for everybody. The breakthrough is called Outpatient Pharmacy Automation System or commonly called OPAS. TTSH is the first hospital here in Singapore with such technology. Other hospitals will surely follow their lead.

If you are curious about this technology, here are some things that you should know about it:


  • Collaborators: OPAS is not a one-man job. TTSH needed the help of other agencies to complete the technology. TTSH is in collaboration with National Healthcare Group’s Pharmacy & Integrated Health Information Systems, National University Hospital.
  • Objectives: Before the completion of the technology, scientists first set their objectives. Objectives are important so scientists will know what they want to address and how they can address it. Initially, OPAS is created to cut down the waiting time of patients and it can help reduce the incidences of human errors.
  • Cost: As mentioned earlier, TTSH is the first to install such technology. It was built at S$5.4 million. How does it look like? Imagine the traditional armatures used in car manufacturing. You will see the same thing in TTSH.
  • How it works: OPAS will pack or assemble medicines based on the e-prescriptions. One of the objectives says that OPAS is created to cut down the waiting time of patients by simultaneously picking and packing. Despite that, the accuracy is not a problem. The accuracy rate of OPAS is 99.9%. This is made possible with the help of robotic arms. Patients can now wait in line for only 10 minutes (compared to 20 minutes if done manually).

This will surely benefit the staffs and the patients. If you are that curious, why not take a look? You can go to TTSH anytime and be amazed with OPAS.


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